Its origins can be traced back over 2,500 years to the shores of the Yangtze River in China. Its purpose: to celebrate the planting of the summer rice fields and pay homage to the Dragon Deity, one of the most sacred and revered in the Chinese mythological tradition. Today the custom is alive and well and is continuing to thrive thousands of miles away from its place of origin as the Rainier Dragon Boat Festival.
On Saturday, Danielle, Steven and I all headed south to Tacoma to take part in the historic tradition. The event is held every year and features over 32 teams from around Washington and Oregon and over 1,000 competitors. Among the days activities were races, music and traditional Chinese song and dance. However the most compelling story wasn't some ancient rivalry between boats; instead it was the story of a woman simply being able to do the thing she loves.
We met up with Dee from Kent, an avid dragon boat racer who recently won her battle with breast cancer. Before being diagnosed with cancer she raced as a paddler, but now continues to be a part of the action as the 'Caller' for her team, the Dragon Tails.
She remarked, 'It's the aspect of strength through community that I love about this sport, I'm so glad that I can continue to be a part of it today.'
Dee was all smiles and couldn't wait to get out on the water.
Dee was absolutely right about the community strength at the Rainier Dragon Boat Festival. Check out our footage from the event to see firsthand.
Video edited by Steven Goodell
If this is something you think you might want to try, check out the Washington Dragon Boat Association website at
www.washingtondragonboat.com/ for information on how to get involved in your community. And if you missed us on the water, don't worry; we'll be back in action this Monday the 17th for Norwegian Constitution Day in Ballard.