PHILADELPHIA TO HOLD INAUGURAL DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL ALONG SCHUYLKILL RIVER
-- Proceeds benefit Fox Chase Cancer Center
(Philadelphia) (August 1, 2002) -- What has the head and tail of a dragon, paddles through the water with 20 oars and beats like a drum? A Dragon Boat, of course.
On Saturday, October 5, 2002 Kelly Drive in Fairmount Park will be the location of the first Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival where thousands of spectators and athletes are expected to attend and enjoy a day-long event filled with dragon boat racing, games, face painting, entertainment, and refreshments. Kelly Drive will be blocked off so festival-goers can enjoy the freedom to watch the racing from the street or participate in the festival activities. Teams are now forming and interested participants are encouraged to register.
"We are excited to invite the Philadelphia community to be a part of Dragon Boat Racing," says Carol Lee Lindner, executive director of the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival."It's a wonderful, empowering sport, something individuals at any age and fitness level can enjoy.
Dragon boats are the world's largest flat water racing canoes, propelled by a crew of 20 paddlers, plus a drummer and steersperson. Synchronicity is more important than strength. A perfectly synchronized team will almost always beat a stronger, less coordinated team. Dragon Boat teams from corporations, community organizations, and schools will be using World Championship fiberglass dragon boats that are fully equipped with dragon head and tail, paddles, steering oar, and drum. The teams will race each other for 500 meters in four lanes on the Schuylkill River. Each mixed crew must have one steersperson, one drummer and 20 paddlers, and of those paddlers, eight must be women. The event is open to men and women from ages 18 and older at any level of ability, although some youth teams have been developed.
The paddlers move in unison, combining strength with teamwork in a dragon boat adorned with an elaborate design that originates in ancient China.
The origin of Dragon Boat Racing dates back almost 2000 years to the Chinese legend of Qu Yuan, a 4th Century statesman, poet, and advisor who, exiled to Southern China, committed suicide by drowning himself in the Milou River. In an attempt to save him, local fisherman raced out onto the water to rescue the drowning Qu. The fishermen wildly beat their drums and splashed the water with their paddles in an attempt to prevent water dragons and fish from eating his body.
The modern Dragon Boat Race is based upon the re-enactment of the race to save Qu from drowning. Over time, village fishing boats, sailed each year in the symbolic search for Qu Yuan's body, began to take part in races which evolved into dragon boat racing's present form. Today, dragon boat racing is one of the fastest growing athletic events in the world and has grown to more than 2 million participants in 40 countries.
"The Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival is about community spirit, physical fitness, family-oriented fun, and friendships through paddling," says Lindner. "And proceeds from the Festival, will benefit a truly worthy cause, cancer research and prevention at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia."
"We're proud to be the beneficiary of the Inaugural Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival," says Robert C. Young, M.D., president of Fox Chase Cancer Center and national president of the American Cancer Society. "We are extremely grateful for the generous donation to cancer research from the Festival's participants, sponsors, and spectators. We commend the spirit of the competition and share in the exhilaration of victory."
"This is a great opportunity for businesses or corporations to encourage their employees to get involved and learn more about team work, camaraderie, and how to achieve a common goal," Lindner says. "Dragon Boat racing not only builds strong muscles, but strong character."
For more information about the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival, to sponsor the event, or to coordinate a team, log on to www.philadragonboatfestival.com or call 1-800-385-2658.
Editor's note: Carol Lee Lindner, Dr. Robert Young and team members are available for interviews. Footage can be obtained from practice sessions along Kelly Drive. Please contact Sue Madden at 215-728-7784 to arrange.
Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase also was among the first institutions to receive the National Cancer Institute’s prestigious comprehensive cancer center designation in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has achieved Magnet status for excellence three consecutive times. Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research and oversees programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. For more information, call 1-888-FOX-CHASE (1-888-369-2427).