On Saturday, September 21 Jacksonville hosted the inaugural Jacksonville Dragon Boat Festival at the Jacksonville Landing on the St. John’s River in downtown Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Landing is a spectacular, spectator-friendly venue, with an array of restaurants and shops. This all-day event featured 35 teams from Florida and South Carolina. Over 800 paddlers participated and over 2000 spectators watched the fascination of sleek, 42-foot long dragon boats gliding through the water, powered only by paddlers.
Dragon Boating is the fastest growing water sport in the world, with teams racing in more than 80 countries. Jacksonville added their festival to a host of dragon boat festivals held throughout the world, bringing people together for a day of racing, fellowship, team-building, and fun. Organized by Pan Am Dragon Boat Association, In the Pink, and Charlene Shirk Productions, the Jacksonville Dragon Boat Festival was an overwhelming success!
This community event gave everyone an opportunity to view 360-meter races with local community teams and organizations, corporate teams, and competitive teams. The event began with an opening ceremony that included the traditional “Dragon eye-dotting” ritual performed by James Yin, the current Board Director of the Jacksonville Chinese Association. This activity signified the awakening of the dragons to begin the festival. Included in the ceremony was a Lion Dance performed by TKA, a professional dance group from Jacksonville. The eye-dotting ceremony included local sponsors and Jacksonville’s Mayor Alvin Brown.