Originating in China more than 2000 years ago, Dragon Boat Racing is one of mankind’s oldest organized sports. Each year there are competitions held in numerous locations around the world in celebration of the Duanwu Festival. In Tampa, there is actually a Dragon Boat Institute. They have a wonderful Vision, which among other things is – To be a model waterfront community.
I was rather surprised to see how many people came out to race and observe. Up and down the channel they went, blades cutting into the water in unison while one individual ruddered and another beat the skin of a drum to keep time. Meanwhile, the Asian Festival was underway on the square of the St Pete Times Forum, and choreographed dances and delicious food were a great complement to the competition.
When people ask me what I like most about Tampa I generally reply, the cultural diversity. Throughout the year there are numerous events surrounding the Cuban, Spanish, Italian, Indian, Greek, African, and American cultures that have shaped everything from the architecture to the events of Tampa Bay.
If you plan to go to next year’s races then stop in to the new Tampa Bay History Center where you will begin to unravel this rich past. What’s more, there is a Columbia Restaurant as part of the Center where you can sit on the deck adjacent to the water, watch the Dragon Boat Races, sip a Mojito, and enjoy Cuban food like they have been preparing since 1905.
In honor of the Dragon Boat Races, there was a fantastic metal statue placed on the promenade of Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. I just had to take a picture of it for my old whitewater rafting and kayaking friends, especially those that did and do paddle class V. After a little fun with Photoshop, I think it conveys that not-so-subtle feeling one can get above a must make move.