Oak Ridge to host dragon boat races

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The inaugural Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Race Festival, which will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, is free to all spectators. It will be held at the Oak Ridge Marina and Pavilion, but officials say it’s unsafe to park along Melton Lake Drive.

Instead, you are encouraged to park at Roane State Community College, Oak Ridge Campus, 701 Briarcliff Ave. You can access the large student parking lot off Laboratory Road, next to RSCC’s new building, and catch a ride in an ETHRA shuttle bus to the waterfront.

Starting at 9 a.m., 30 dragon boat teams will race at least twice, with the 12 winners of two rounds racing in the third round.

The festival offers food and beverage vendors, beer garden, kids area at the pavilion with bounce houses and 15-minute martial arts lessons on the hour, two Tai Chi demonstrations and awards ceremonies for winners of the morning Drummers Parade and the third round of dragon boat races.

The three Rotary clubs of Oak Ridge are launching this fundraiser for community nonprofit service organizations. 

Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing, LLC, of Knoxville will operate the races safely and is providing the dragon boats, other equipment and training, which is underway this week. The company will provide staff to steer each boat.

Three judges will determine the winners of the Drummers’ Parade, featuring the drummers for each team who will be wearing amazing costumes.  

The vendors will provide eats ranging from hot dogs and pizza to Mexican and Chinese foods.

A dragon boat is a 46-foot-long, Hong Kong-style boat adorned with a snarling dragonhead at the boat’s front end, as in the Chinese tradition. Dragon boat races have become popular events in many U.S. cities, ranging in size from Philadelphia and San Francisco to Knoxville.

The goal is to turn this inaugural boat race into an annual fund raising festival that will build up the Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund [501(c)3] and meet needs in the Oak Ridge community in educational, children’s and health programs. Examples are the Children’s Museum, local science fair, Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., literacy programs and the Free Medical Clinic of Oak Ridge.

For more information, contact Leslie England at lengland@tnbank.net or (865) 483-9444, and visit www.oakridge.racedragonboats.com.