Heat did not deter participants and onlookers from attending the final day of Dragon Boat Race festivities in Oriental on Saturday. Temperatures were above 90 degrees yet there were more than 400 participants to form 18 different teams.
Vendors were running kiosks to provide food and beverages to those attending the races. Tents were set up along the waterway at River Dunes and people sat under the shade drinking their water and eating their ice cream enjoying the site of dragon boats racing in the waterway.
The length of water that race teams had to paddle was 320 meters, or about 1,050 feet.
Teams were comprised of various local organizations, families and military service members.
As the announcer, Jeff Aydelette narrated the entire event, his wife Flora Moorman helped teams line up to board the dragon boats to prepare for their turn to race.
Moorman has been coordinating the festival for the past four years in hopes of raising money to help local non-profit organizations.
“The Dragon Boat Races is a way to bring something special to the town to add tourism,” Moorman said. “If you lump it with the opportunity for non-profits to raise funds then it makes it much more fun. And we are trying to support our military and our community.”
The championship round consisted of the top three teams in Saturdays races. The three final teams were Neuse Winds Freedom Riders, Draggin’ Tails and Sons of Sparta.
The Neuse Winds Freedom Riders team was made up of Marines from the Single Marine Program at Cherry Point air station and won first place. The Sons of Sparta team, an all marine team also, won second place. Draggin’ Tails, winners in 2010 and declared hometown favorite by the announcer, consisted of Deaton Yacht Service family and friends. They won third place.
The winning teams were awarded with a special paddle with race day information and the team’s placement.
Gale Cass and her husband are residents of Raleigh and travel to Oriental nearly every weekend. They decided watch the races for what was supposed to be just a few minutes.
“Now we aren’t able to leave because we are having so much fun,” Cass said.
Cass and her husband attend the races in support of Deaton Yacht Services and participating Coast Guard members.
Members from HeartWorks, a non-profit in Bayboro that serves youth and their families in Pamlico County and surrounding areas, have participated in the races for the past 3 years and does little to prepare for race day. “We practiced last night. We just have to listen to our steer person, drummer and pay attention,” said Karen Prince, executive director of HeartWorks.
The lack of practice didn’t hurt them during race day, as they beat two all military teams during some of the races.