The Washington D.C. Dragon Boat Festival scheduled for this weekend, May 17-18, at the Thompson Boat Center, 2900 Virginia Ave., NW, has been postponed to June 14-15, due to the volume of rain making the conditions unsafe for racing.
The festival is hosted each May by the Chinese Women’s League of Washington DC. About 50 teams from along the East Coast will compete in dragon boat races on the Potomac River. The festival will open on Saturday, June 14, at 8:30 a.m., with a traditional lion dance and an eye-dotting ceremony, said to awaken the sleeping dragons — the spirits of the racing boats.
The National Capital Women’s Paddling Association (NCAWPA) is being recognized during this year's race due to its 20th year anniversary and the organization's annual participation with the Washington DC Dragon Boat Festival since 2002. NCAWPA, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, focuses on community service by providing paddling opportunities for the greater community and also river stewardship.
The Washington DC Dragon Boat Festival is NCAWPA’s biggest annual community service activity. NCAWPA has representatives on the DC Festival Committee who help plan the logistics of the event. The organization also helps train festival teams and arranges for boat transport to and from the training and festival race sites. GoPink!DC, NCAWPA’s breast cancer survivor and supporter team, helps with the DC Dragon Boat Festival Carnation Ceremony.
NCAWPA looks forward to its continued partnership with the Chinese Women’s League and to sharing the DC Dragon Boat Festival cultural event with the greater DC area. NCAWPA spearheaded the development of dragon boating and outrigger canoeing both locally and along the East Coast. In all, NCAWPA's three dragon boat teams and outrigger team have trained hundreds of people and built ties with the local community.
The DC Dragons Kuula, a festival team sponsored by the DC Dragons, the original dragon boat racing team in the DC area; GoPink!DC; and Capital City Dragons, NCAWPA's youth dragon boat program for teens ages 12-18, will be participating in this year's race.
Today, dragon boat racing is held all over the world and is one of the fastest-growing international sports. Contemporary folk tradition commonly attributes dragon boat festival and racing to the commemoration of Qu Yuan, a scholar and kinsman of Huai Wang, the ruler of the state of Chu (China), who lived over 2000 year ago. Qu Yuan was a folk hero who he had drowned himself in the Miluo River in today's Hunan province, to protest political corruption. Beating drums and splashing the water furiously with their paddles, the boatmen raced into the river to save him, but failed. This event gave rise to modern forms of dragon boat racing.
For information, go to dragonboatdc.com.