Spirit awakens dragon boat festival

Community Online First

NEW GLASGOW – It was a splendid day and a splendid way to celebrate the Race on the River’s 15th anniversary.

Race chairman Bob Rogers announced after the races on Saturday that participants combined their efforts to raise $115,000 from among the 38 teams that paddled on Saturday along the East River.

“The support from paddlers and volunteers was as good as I’ve seen,” said Rogers who, in past years, was among the volunteers ensuring the paddlers’ needs and safety. “We’ve had a very good year.”

More than 1,000 people took part, including the nearly 800 paddlers and more than 200 volunteers, Rogers said, noting  the festival’s success as he helped officially open the event on Friday evening.

“What was started as a dream has been a dream come true,” he said, noting the $1.6 million raised for the event’s beneficiaries.

New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan praised the event as one that “brings out the best” in Pictou County’s residents who participate each year.

Honorary chairman Dr. Gerry Farrell performed the ceremonial dotting of the dragon eye after former local cancer navigator Joanne Cumminger explained the tradition as a mystic event that helps bring life to the dragon.

“I felt deeply honoured and full of gratitude,” Farrell said when asked to be this year’s honorary chairman.

“I’ve been so encouraged by the spirit and camaraderie (of those involved in the race event).”

The races were completed without incident and despite the threat of thunderstorms that eluded the race venue throughout the afternoon and evening.

There were numerous close finishes and some quick races.

Dartmouth Dragon Boat East won a Race on the River Cup event in 58:50 seconds, three one-hundredths of a second faster than the Y Not team.

Winners were declared in nine final races.

The Advocate Cup was won by Breast A Mix in a race with the local women Alike team and the Cape Breastoners to complete the race day.

The Reef Knots representing the Pictou County Prostate Support Association, one of the Race on the River’s three designated charities, won the Bruce F. Murray Memorial Cup. The team also won the Town of New Glasgow Cup.

The Cobequid Fire Eaters won the Michelin Cup, while the NRHS Nighthawks defeated the North Nova Gryphons to capture the Grant Thornton high school trophy.

The Riverview Rebels won the East Coast FM Cup, while the RC Dragon Warriors won the Scotiabank Cup and the Michelin Defenders won the Sobeys Cup after finishing first in the corporate final.

The annual pink carnation ceremony closed Saturday’s program, with hundreds of people lining the George Street Bridge to cast the flowers into the river in memory of those who have died from cancer over the years.

The Crombie Crushers raised the most money among teams – $35,630 – while the Women Alike team combined to raise $13,111.50.

Among individual pledges, Glen Hynes raised $25,500, while Aaron Bryant raised 7,250.
Shirley Murray with $2,380 and Freddie MacKay with$2,000 were top community fundraisers, while Special Olympics athlete Terry MacLeod raised $1,164.

Proceeds go to the prostate support group, as well as Women Alike and the Special Olympics Northern Region.

Last year, the event raised $90,000.

The dragon makes its entrance Friday night during opening ceremonies. (Goodwin photo)

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