by SHANNON BLANKINSHIP
Outreach Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper
On September 21st, the inaugural Fidelity Investments Jacksonville Dragon Boat Festival will take place on the St. Johns River at The Jacksonville Landing from 8 am – 6 pm. The festival combines traditional dragon boat racing, which emphasizes athleticism and team building, with river recreation and health awareness. In addition to the exciting dragon boat races, there will be demonstrations by Chinese dancers and martial artists, as well as great music and entertainment throughout the day.
Dragon Boating is the fastest growing watersport in the world, with teams racing in more than 80 countries. The Fidelity Investments Jacksonville Dragon Boat Festival hopes to host 50 teams with over 1,000 athletes participating and thousands of spectators. This is a community event that gives everyone an opportunity to either participate in dragon boat races or to enjoy watching them in action! The festival will feature 400-meter races with local community teams and organizations, corporate teams and competitive teams. Clubs, churches, scout troops, and friends are welcome to participate, as well as businesses, police officers, firefighters and others.
Proceeds from the festival benefit “In the Pink”, a nonprofit boutique and salon for women living with cancer. This local organization helps women heal, cope and survive the effects of all types of cancer, both physically and emotionally. They help hundreds of women, men and children each year, by providing services which include wigs, head-shaving, scarves, hats, post-surgical garments, mastectomy bras, prostheses, skincare for radiation and chemotherapy, free yoga, counseling and seminars. For more information, visit www.jaxinthepink.com.
Jeri Millard, the founder of In the Pink and the event coordinator for the festival, shares her excitement about the festival. “Bringing dragon boating to Jacksonville has been an exciting adventure. This sport is beneficial to anyone and everyone living on the First Coast. I can truly say that almost everyone is capable of taking part. We have members on our teams ranging in age from 14 to 73 and with a variety of fitness levels. It is such a thrill to be out paddling on our beautiful waterways surrounded by dolphins, manatee, bald eagles, etc., while getting a great cardio workout. I can’t think of a better way to improve our overall health and well-being.” If anyone is interested in learning more about these local teams, please visit www.inthepinkdragonboats.com or call Jeri at 904-372-0029.
The Fidelity Investments Jacksonville Dragon Boat Festival is the perfect event to enjoy a day on the river as a participant or as a spectator from one of the many restaurants located at the Jacksonville Landing. As recreational activities on our river hopefully continue to expand, the health of our river must also improve. A clean and healthy St. Johns will enhance our quality of life by providing more opportunities to safely swim, boat, paddle and fish the river or simply enjoy its abundant wildlife and natural beauty. We look forward to seeing the dragon boats and more and more people taking advantage of the recreational opportunities provided by our community’s most valuable natural asset – the St. Johns River!
Fidelity Investments Jacksonville Dragon Boat Festival
September 21st, The Jacksonville Landing, 2 Independent Dr., 32202
Opening Ceremony is at 8 am, followed by races until 5 pm.
Closing Ceremony is at 6 pm, followed by live music and entertainment on stage by Barb from Go Ask Alice (6-8 pm) and Bay Street Band (8 pm-midnight).