I’m sweaty and sunburnt with a sore back and shoulders, but it was all worth it. I just spent the day at the 9th annual Dragon Boat Festival for The Cure which took place on July 8th, 9th, and 10th at St. Clair Beach in Tecumseh. My team paddled on the 10th, along with numerous other community teams.
One of the best parts of the event is listening as teams are announced for their races. Some pretty interesting names come up. Among my favourites were; More Than A Handful, Slippery Nipples, and Victoria’s Secret Weapons.
For everyone who participates, the day is not all about the competition of the sport, it’s about the pure enjoyment of team spirit and rallying everyone together for a great cause. And about making everything pink, from the dumpsters to the port-a-potties to the guys’ muscle shirts. Team tents are lavishly decorated with balloons, streamers, bras, and anything else that might happen to have a pink hue.
About halfway through the day, the rose ceremony takes place, and even after my 4 years of participation, it still makes my eyes water. A mother who has recently lost her daughter to breast cancer takes the mic to read a moving poem written in her loved one’s honour, bravely keeping her composure throughout, as the park filled with hundreds of people is hushed, listening to her words. A song written specifically for the event plays over the P.A. as spectators on the shore and boats full of paddlers on the water wave roses to the beat. At the end of the song the roses are tossed into the river in memoriam to those lost to this illness.
There were also numerous haircuts that took place throughout the day, with children as young as 5 raising a few hundred dollars on the spot as those participating in or just watching the event donate money for eight or twelve inches of hair to be cut off, the hair itself then being donated as well.
A new and interesting addition this year, the park held a station where water bottles could be refilled, a way to encourage the use of reusable bottles and cut back on the waste created by the traditional plastic type. It seemed to work, as almost every time I walked by the station there were people re-filling some sort of container with clean, fresh drinking water.
Although the Dragon Boat Festival for the Cure is complete for this year, I will be returning for it’s tenth anniversary next July, so plan to come out and experience the action live, or better, yet, join a team and take part, it’s a great cause and a great day.