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Paddling the Manatee River in traditional Chinese dragon boats

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The Manatee River is located in Manatee County, Florida. Bradenton is the largest city in the County. On Saturday, June 14, 2014, a group of paddlers participated in a dragon boat along the 36-mile stretch of the Manatee River.

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This is the way Bradenton Herald news reporter Jessica De Leon described the start of the race. “Paddlers were enjoying the water, the sun and good times Saturday as they raced to the finish line on Manatee River in the latest dragon boat races to come to Bradenton.”

According to De Leon Saturday's races, held outside Tarpon Pointe Grill, were the second of three in the Gulf Coast Mini Dragon Boat Series

“Among the teams competing was the newly formed Paddlers from Paradise, based out of Anna Maria Island with paddlers from all over Manatee County.”

Melinda Bradway, one of the participants, informed Jessica De Leon that, "All these ladies had never seen a dragon boat before."

However, traditional Dragon Boat Races and Festivals are annual events worldwide. According to www.travelchinaguide.com , “Falling on the 5th day of the 5th month according to Chinese lunar calendar, the Dragon Boat Festival is one of great significance. It has been held annually for more than 2,000 years and is notable for its educational influence.”

In addition, “The festival commemorates the patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), and also acts as a chance for Chinese people to build their bodies and dispel diseases. Many legends circulate around the festival but the most popular is the legend of Qu Yuan.”

Locally, there are several Dragon Boat Festivals in North Carolina. These include The Charlotte Asian Festival and Charlotte Dragon Boat Festival Races, Lake Lure’s Lure of the Dragon and Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival. Raleigh, North Carolina has its own Raleigh Dragon Boat Club

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