Participants in the 2008 Washington DC Dragon Boat Festival overcame a flooded river and a hail storm to bring a colorful celebration of Chinese culture to the Potomac River. Runoff from torrential rains required rescheduling the festival from May 17-18. Tremendous thunder, rain, and hail interrupted the rescheduled festival this past Saturday. Chu Yuan's spirit was surely pleased that the event went forward despite these obstacles.
The festival included well-trained and highly skilled dragon boat paddlers. These teams were amazing to watch in action. They churned up the Potomac at a high cadence with all twenty paddlers together fiercely striking the water in perfect synchronization.
The festival also included novice teams. Hoya Hodgepodge, a novice team under the energetic leadership of captain Eileen Napoliello, impressed many paddlers in the course of its four races. Its nominal roster drew mainly on persons affiliated with various schools at Georgetown University. But, in response to desertions from its ranks, the Hoya gang dragooned into service researchers from the National Institute of Health, transported across 2500 years an astonished oarsman from an ancient Greek trireme, and even rounded up some Pirates of the Potomac. But perhaps the Hoya gang's most audacious move was to impress a very high-ranking official from the Taiwan Representative Office. That official, who was captured along with four of his colleagues, rowed quite strongly despite having to row against his own (former) teammates.
Captain Napoliello made a daring strategic move when the festival races shifted to the longer, 500m meter distance. In order to increase team harmony and synchronicity, she put into her boat's two leading seats a brother and sister duo. Anyone with siblings can recognize the audacity of this strategy. But this move helped the Hoya Hodgepodge win a Silver Medal in the 500m Team "D" Finals.
Video news coverage of the DC Dragon Boat Festival in included below. If the video keeps stopping and starting, try clicking on the stop button on the player and give it a minute to get ahead on the downloading. Alternatively, the Youtube version seems to play more continuously, but the video quality is lower.
Thanks to the Chinese Women's League, Washington DC Chapter, for sponsoring this event.