Dragon Boat Race and Festival returns May 10 to Point Mallard Park.
After a series of two successful years, the dragons are returning to Point Mallard Park to make waves and raise money for the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation. Set for May 10, 2014, the annual Dragon Boat Race and Festival kicks off with opening ceremonies at 8:30 a.m. with the racing action getting underway at 9 a.m.
The festival made its debut in Decatur in 2012 with 53 teams competing for medals and bragging rights. Last year’s event attracted more than 70 teams and an estimated 7,000 came out as either a participant or a spectator. The day-long event takes place in the Point Mallard Aquatic Center, and along with action in the water, the waterpark will be filled with tailgate tents, music, food, and other family fun.
The ancient ritual called “Awakening the Dragon” where the eyes of the dragon head are literally “dotted” as a symbol to awaken the spirit of the dragons will take place after the Daikin Taiko Drummers performance beginning at 8:30 a.m. Racing starts at 9 a.m. and events last throughout the day until approximately 5 p.m., rain or shine. Spectators may watch and cheer on their favorite team from the beach area of the Point Mallard Aquatic Center or from the water at a safe distance from the race course. The concession stand will be open throughout the event. Water Park pools and rides will be closed.
Admission is free and a limited amount of free parking is available inside the park. MCATS buses will provide shuttle service from GE parking lot to the Point Mallard Aquatic Center for $1/ride. Donations will be accepted at the event with proceeds benefiting the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization. The money raised from this year’s event will go to the purchase of new defibrillators throughout the hospital system.
Sponsors for the 2014 event include Presenting Sponsor Toray, BP of Decatur, The Decatur Daily, Boeing, Clear Channel, Daikin, Nucor, FOX 54, Indorama / AlphaPet, JW Steakhouse, Lynn Layton, PNC Bank, Regions Bank, Avectus, Peck-Glasgow, Cook’s Pest Control, Franklin Collections, MedAssist, Morgan County Commission, and Warren Averett.
The Dragon Boat Race and Festival is a unique cultural event featuring adrenaline-pumping action while also serving as a fundraiser for the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation. Teams, comprised of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a trained dragon boat steerer/coach, will race in authentic Asian-style, 46-foot-long dragon boats. Teams may have four alternates, for a total of 25 team members, or can race with a minimum of 16. There must be at least eight female paddlers and minimum age for adult teams is 15 with parental consent. Each team is guaranteed at least two races on the 250-meter race course with winners advancing to the finals.
Dragon boat racing is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with more than 50 million people in 63 countries participating. The tradition of Dragon Boat Racing is an annual Asian rite commemorating the idealistic poet and reformer Qu Yuan who drowned himself in the third century B.C. to protest against his emperor’s policies. The locals raced in their boats in an attempt to rescue the poet, and beat their drums and splashed their paddles to prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body. This was considered the beginning of Dragon Boat Racing.
For more information on the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation Dragon Boat Race and Festival, visit www.decaturdragonboat.org or call 256.341.2187.