Of course you knew that Turkey Lake sits in the beautiful Bill Frederick Park in Orlando, FL. And the dragons were in the form of 41 foot, 750 pound, Chinese inspired, human propelled boats. This was the annual Walgreens Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival.
According to Aaron Soraka with GWN Dragon Boat, and chief purveyor of the day’s jubilant madness, the sport is really exploding both competitively and as a team building exercise. Most paddle sports are solitary, where as Dragon Boat racing takes a true team synchronicity with all paddles in the water at the same time. Lots of new participants, after they try it, end up seeking out teams to join, or taking up SUP or outriggers.”
This event was truly on a impressive scale. Over 70 teams from the eastern seaboard, the midwest, and Canada. More than 1500 participants and at least than many fans and volunteers. A festival setting of tents, sponsors, food, and entertainment. Incredible national corporate sponsorship, and more high fives and hugs than you could count. All smoothly organized by the GWN staff.
The boats themselves are unique and supplied for all teams, along with life jackets and paddles. They hold 20 paddlers, a steersman, and the drummer – providing cadence, encouragement, and by tradition the heartbeat of the vessel. And they look really, really cool.
If you’re new to paddle sports or haven’t been in a Dragon Boat, find a team. You’ll find a fun and welcoming way to get on the water. Just like the title sponsor hoped for, I saw a couple thousand people definitely standing on the corner of happy and healthy.