This just in… Dragon Boat race coming to White River

An event organized by the White River Alliance will give local residents a chance to observe – or take part – in a type of boat racing which has a 2,000-year history in China.

It’s known as dragon boat racing.

The Alliance is teaming with Indy SurviveOars, Indiana’s only breast cancer survivor dragon boat team, to host the first-ever White River Dragon Boat Race and Festival to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at White River State Park.

Teams interested in entering the Dragon Boat Race can register at one of two participation levels at WhiteRiverDragonBoats.org. Registration is open until Sept. 12, and full payment must be made at time of registration.

“We’re extremely excited to host the inaugural boat races on the White River,” said Jill Hoffman, White River Alliance executive director. “This event will support our ongoing efforts to protect the White River while increasing awareness of the river as a one-of-a-kind resource for Indianapolis area residents. We’re hopeful that this event will inspire more people to engage in the protection and improvement of our river – and have a blast while doing so!”

A community-wide competition, the Dragon Boat Races will feature live racing with 46-foot long dragon boats, as well as food and beer trucks.

With growing popularity in the West since the 1920s, dragon boat racing emphasizes teamwork, because it takes a team of 22 people to power the massive vessel. Paddling has also become popular for women recovering from breast cancer, with survivor teams all around the world.

“We are proud to be co-sponsoring this event with the White River Alliance,” said Elaine Shea, Indy SurviveOars president. “Through this sport, we strive to bring hope, inspiration and camaraderie to breast cancer survivors while promoting health and physical activity on the water.”

White River Vision Plan is the event’s presenting sponsor. “The dragon boat races offer a proof of concept,” said Brad Beaubien, long-range planning administrator for the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development. “We are trying to get to a place where the river is a thriving economic, recreational, and ecological asset for the residents of and visitors to the area. Getting people engaged in recreational river activities while raising money to help improve water quality is an ideal scenario for launching this long-range planning effort,”

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