Dragon Boats Practice on Chadakoin River, Races Begin Saturday

2016 Dragon Boat Practice at McCrea Practice

2016 Dragon Boat Practice at McCrea Practice

Published by The Post Journal 8/5/16– There were ”Dragons” on the Chadakoin River Thursday who were preparing to conquer Chautauqua Lake this weekend.

On Thursday, practice was held at McCrea Point Park in Jamestown for the 2016 Chautauqua Lake Dragon Boat Race & Festival that will be held today and Saturday on Chautauqua Lake at Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron. This is the first dragon boat festival to be held on Chautauqua Lake. June Diethrick, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation operations officer, said there will be 25-30 teams participating in the races, which start at 9 a.m. Saturday. She said half of the teams are local participants and the other half will come from places like Ithaca, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Proceeds from the first dragon boat race on Chautauqua Lake will go toward the Chautauqua Lake Association.

”We want it to be successful and we want the money to go to the lake,” Diethrick said.

Sanfilippo Solutions was one of the local teams preparing Thursday. Wendy Sanfilippo of Frewsburg said Sanfilippo Solutions is a business that provides home energy assessments to help homeowners be more energy efficient. She said it is her first time in a dragon boat. She added that she wasn’t nervous about being in a dragon boat for the first time because she has done similar activities like kayaking.

”I think it is going to be something interesting to participate in. It should be fun,” she said.

Sanfilippo said her team consist of family members, and Frewsburg High School students. One of the family members participating on Sanfilippo Solutions’ team is Theresa Levandoski of Lakewood. She has kayaked before, but has never been in a dragon boat. She added that she is not nervous to get out on Chautauqua Lake to participate in the action.

”I think it is going to be quite interesting. I’ve seen the Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association on the lake before. They’re interesting to watch,” she said.

The 2016 Chautauqua Lake Dragon Boat Race & Festival starts today in Celoron at 3 p.m. when food and craft vendors open. Dragon boat participants will practice in the lake starting at 4 p.m. At 6 p.m., the 2016 Chautauqua Lake Dragon Boat Race & Festival kick-off party will start with live music from We Speak Canadian. At 7 p.m., a pontoon boat parade will start at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club.

On Saturday, race registration will start at 7 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. The racing will take place between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with race finals starting around 3 p.m. A race is scheduled to start every 15 minutes. Each team will race three times at a distance of 200 meters. At 4 p.m., there will be a rubber ducky race.

Originating in China 2,000 years ago, dragon boat racing is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world, with races being held annually in Buffalo and the Finger Lakes region. Dragon boat racing is team-driven as participants work in unison to propel a 31-foot-long canoe through a designated course. Of the 12 members comprising a team, 10 peddlers power the boat while a steersperson in the stern guides the ship. A drummer located in the bow motivates the paddlers and keeps them in sync.

At noon, the unveiling of the new Lucy statue will take place. The public is invited to see the new statue as well as the ”Scary Lucy” statue that went viral on the Internet last year. People will also have a chance to meet the artist of the new statue, Carolyn Palmer.

Scott Schrecengost, Celoron mayor; members of the Celoron Village Board; the selection committee; and Ernie Boch Jr., Subaru of New England president, who made a substantial donation to pay for the new statue; will also be in attendance. The Junior Guilders will perform during the event while area bakeries will provide birthday cupcakes to celebrate Lucille Ball’s birthday and the arrival of the new statue.

Event sponsors include the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; Greater Chautauqua FCU; Chautauqua Council 202 UCT; Zippo Manufacturing Co.; Hartley Buick GMC; Real Estate Advantage; County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency; Wegmans Food Markets; The Resource Center – New Visions Services Inc.; Chautauqua Lake Twin Tier Chapter of ACBS; Jamestown Mattress Co. Inc.; and TRI James Services Inc. For more information, visit chqdragonrace.org.