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$69 for Festival Boat Race Participation for One ($150 Value)
- Roster of all team participants
- Racing wristband
- Ready-to-race card
- Personal flotation device
At the start of each heat in the Saturday, July 28 boat races, 22 teammates assemble aboard each ornate dragon boat to compete in open, women's, mixed, and breast-cancer-survivor division races. Twenty paddlers, a drummer, and a steersperson surge across the waters of Lake Arlington to the finish line to claim a first-place spot, relying on teamwork and coordination rather than sheer strength or calling in favors from sharks they knew in college. Judges track competing teams using an electronic timing system, and award trophies and medals to the winning crew.
Single participants can choose their team members or join an existing team prior to the start of the festival, and staff members may provide a steersperson for any team that needs one. Each crew prepares itself in the designated 400 square-foot space within the Athlete's Village. Though athletes must pay to race, admission is free for all spectators.
Chicago International Dragon Boat Festival
Lake Arlington's surface ripples in the breeze as shouts, cheers, and drumbeats echo across its shores. Ornately painted boats, carved into the likeness of Chinese dragons, glide across the water to the rhythm of 40 paddles turning in unison. The male and female boaters at Chicago International Dragon Boat Festival split into four racing divisions and follow the roots of a traditional eastern sport as they paddle, drum, and steer in coordination with their teammates. Spectators view the proceedings from tiered grandstands, which enable them to see the full scope of the race without having to rent a jetpack. They can also revel at an outdoor beer garden, listen to live entertainment, and usher their kids to participate in interactive activities in the Dragon's Nest. Competitors plunge into challenge races to benefit causes such as public services and breast-cancer research and rush to complete the most pushups after the race during the Workout of the Dragons.
This year's event benefits the nonprofit organization Salute, Inc., whose staffers work to support soldiers and veterans through fundraisers. Great White North assembles the event in partnership with local Windy City Dragons, in an effort to pay it forward to local charities while spreading enthusiasm for the sport. Their staffers also design each boat, specializing in the crafting of ornate vessels bearing the likenesses of colorful Chinese dragons and glorious Burt Reynoldses.