Welcome Oriental Dragon Boat Festival!
Friday features ‘Marine Triathlon’ on town’s waterfront
Saturday, event moves to River Dunes for all-out Dragon Boat racing!
By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
ORIENTAL – The ‘Chesty Pullers’ are one of six all-Marine Dragon Boat teams that will be competing in the Festival’s two days of competition.
On Friday, Oriental will see an all-military ‘triathlon’ like none other, to feature paddle, pedal, and swim events. The line-up includes Dragon Boat time trials in the morning. The hilarious Rickshaw Racing is set for early afternoon, followed by a dramatic swimming ‘rescue’ of inflatable Dragons in the Neuse River.
No word yet on how these ‘blow up’ colorful serpents might have found their way to Oriental!
The event concludes Friday evening with music by the Rhythm Doctors
In the center photo, Debbie Schmelty, and her daughter Crystal, are world class Dragon Boat enthusiasts who will oversee Saturday’s formal racing competition, along with Debbie’s husband, Harry.
Debbie and Crystal recently returned from the International Dragon Boat Festival World
Nation Championships held July 24 – 28 in Szeged, Hungary where “Crystal and I were the only Mother/Daughter duo for steering,” said Debbie.
The two women came back to the U.S. with a veritable boatload of medals: One gold; three silver; and four bronze.
“There were 30 countries competing,” added Debbie. “It was non-stop racing for five days in a row. Races were 2,000 meters, 1,000 meters, 500 meters and 200 meters.”
On Saturday at River Dunes, the Marine teams will be joined by a host of other teams.
“The diversity is incredible this year,” said Festival organizer, Flora Moorman. “We literally have paddlers from all walks of life.”
Phil Hobson, owner of the Healthy Habits store in Oriental, has sponsored a Dragon Boat team to be manned by the ‘Vandemere Firefighters,’ who will be quaffing Hobson’s ‘Lift-Off Energy Drink.’ The tasty, energy-packed beverage is the product of regular bottled water and an effervescent tablet that comes in a variety of flavors.
“We are delighted to be a part of this year’s Festival,’ said Hobson. “Although I will certainly be cheering for the Vandemere Firefighters, my wife Paulette and I will have plenty of Lift-Off for any of the other paddlers. Everyone needs as much energy as possible for Dragon Boat Racing.”
This is the fourth consecutive year for the Oriental Dragon Boat Festival, which typically gives the small waterfront community an economic shot-in-the-arm. Spectators are welcome both days and admission is free. There are several spots open for Dragon Boat Paddlers at a cost of $40 per person – no special skills required. To sign up, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.