Dragon boat races have arrived
Dragon boat racing has arrived in Lewes, and if the inaugural festival is any indication, it’s a spectacle that has come to stay.
Bright sunshine and blue skies domed thousands of participants and spectators who mingled in Canalfront Park or caught the action from docks and decks opposite the park. The event drew 21 teams of 20 paddlers each, sponsored by an array of area businesses from law offices and gyms to builders, river pilots, restaurants, hair salons and the Cape Gazette.
The flat, sheltered waters of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal offered an ideal location for racing the brightly colored boats, and Canalfront Park offered plenty of space for teams to marshal and spectators to gather in support of Sussex Academy Foundation’s effort to raise funds for Sussex Academy, a public charter school in Georgetown.
Scheduled at a time when summer tourist crowds have begun to dwindle, the races proved an exceptional draw for locals who for months had avoided downtown crowds. If city officials at first worried the races could damage the park, they must now be celebrating a day that showcased so much of what Lewes has to offer: beautiful boats on a sparkling canal, a vigorous business community that rallied to support a new school, great restaurants and local brew that kept everyone energized, and an eclectic and dynamic community that arrived by car and also by boat, kayak, motorcycle, bicycle and on foot to cheer race after spirited race.
Considering the perfect setting Lewes offers for this event and the support the Cape Region so readily provides for good causes, it’s slightly puzzling it has taken so long for dragon boats to make an appearance in Sussex County. Now that they have, it’s a sure bet they will return, and teams are already talking strategy for next year.
Congratulations to all who paddled and to the many businesses and residents who supported this event, raising thousands of dollars for the foundation while celebrating the waterfront, the city and the generosity of the Cape Region.