I caught a 7:40am ferry to Centre Island on Saturday for the Dragon Boat Races with no problem. By the time I left the island two hours later, the ferries were crowded with lineups at the mainland pier. Not only do they transport the thousands of athletes, officials, performers, and volunteers, they also take a lot of spectators. Allow for delays if you’re going next year. The races were great, especially if you know people in them. It seems to be a lot more fun participating than just watching. I was really tempted to race next season. Yes, this is just about the most multicultural thing you can do in Toronto. Participants work together in groups of about 24 apparently without regard for racial differences. It was also nice to see men and women, young and old, together on some of the same teams. It was nice to see women in leading roles as drummers in men’s teams as well as vice-versa. This event is well organized. I found just walking through the Athlete’s Village interesting. Space is alloted to each team and some of them set up their own tents. The team names are fun: Blazing Paddles, Wild Chicks, Tsunami, etc. Rituals have developed: high fives in a moving line. One group paraded through the village with a wiggling dragon and lots of soap bubbles. With the Breast Cancer Survivors, they drop pink carnations into the water in memory of teammates who could not join this year. The races themselves went like clockwork: usually no more than 10 minutes between heats. The course is 100 meters and it’s finished in about two minutes. In two days, there were 101 races with five boats each and 24 people to a boat. They had to work with two sets of five boats to get them all in. This year there was a Caribbean village. We could munch on patties and eat jerk chicken. I met five students from Brampton standing by steel drums, waiting to play. Even they were multicultural. They were from different island nations. See also: Blog. 143.
The line that grabbed me the most, Ruth, is your being tempted to race next year. I just might have to fly in to see just that! Can you believe, after 26 years of living in Asia, that I have never seen dragon boat racing? Last year I was in HK, but for reasons I can no longer remember, we got to the races ten minutes after they were over! How silly… But you sure paint a picture of a day of terrific multi-cultural fun. And yeah, I can imagine it would manifold more to be a racer.