Habitat announces Dragon Boat Race

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  With origins dating back 2,300 years, dragon boat racing is the most fun, unique cultural event featuring adrenaline-pumping action. Teams race in 46-foot long Hong Kong-style dragon boats adorned with decorative dragonheads and tails, with 20 paddlers, a drummer and steerer navigating a racecourse at speeds of 10-15 mph. Dragon boat racing is the 8th fastest growing sport in the world that’s enjoyed by more than 50 million people in 64 countries! 

Last year in Gadsden, the event was enjoyed by over 800 athletes/paddlers. It’s time to get your friends, family, and co-workers together. Team registration is now open for Gadsden-Etowah Habitat for Humanity’s 4th Annual Habitat Dragon Boat Festival scheduled for Saturday, August 15. Information available at: 256-543-1898, gehabitat@comcast.net, www.habitatdragonboat.com  or Facebook/habitatdragonboat. 

There will be two divisions again this year. Teams will be seeded in the Competitive or Recreational division after the first round based on race time. “This will give more teams an opportunity to race for an award,” said Suzanne Scharfenberg, co-chair.

Local organizers expect 40 teams to fill the Athletes Village in Riverwalk Park beside the Coosa River. Last year’s festival drew 34 teams (816 athletes) and approximately 2,000 spectators. “We anticipate an even larger crowd this year with 40 teams (that’s 960 athletes) plus family, friends, supporters and spectators,” said Suzanne Scharfenberg. 

People who never thought of themselves as athletes can thrive in a dragon boat.

“Participants rave about the excitement, friendly competition and community spirit surrounding the sport. It is the ultimate in team building for nearly all ages, skill levels and physiques, requiring synchronicity and finesse, more than power, to win,” said Suzanne Scharfenberg. 

“I have had the pleasure in working with several events over many years, but this is one of my favorite events by far that I have been involved with,” said Janet Tarrance of City of Gadsden Parks & Recreations. “Not only is it competitive, takes teamwork, and is fun, but the money this event takes in goes for a wonderful cause. I look forward to this event each year,” she said.

“The goal of the Habitat Dragon Boat Festival is to raise funds to build more houses in our community. To date, we have built three new houses with funds from the first three festivals. We also seek to raise awareness of the Habitat ministry, to inform families of the eligibility requirements, and to attract more volunteers while having a great time on the water,” said Steve Scharfenberg, co-chairman

Habitat for Humanity is again working with Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing, LLC, who will provide the staff, boats and equipment for the Habitat Dragon Boat Festival. The races will be staged on the Coosa River at Riverwalk Park across from Moragne Park. Rainbow Drive will be closed for added safety and more parking. Admission is free for spectators.

Vendor booths will be available to provide various food and beverages, kid’s activities and music. There will be a shaded picnic area as well. Spectators are welcome to bring lawn chairs, shade umbrellas or small canopy tents. Interested vendors should contact the office – 256-543-1898.

The Habitat Dragon Boat Festival is sponsored by Gadsden-Etowah Habitat for Humanity, whose mission is to eliminate poverty and substandard housing in our community by building simple, decent and affordable houses. Qualified families purchase their new home with a 20-year zero percent mortgage. G-E Habitat for Humanity has just completed its 46th house in the county and builds on average three houses per year. Races begin at 9 a.m. at Riverwalk Park and Boardwalk along Rainbow Drive on Saturday, August 15.

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