Dragon and Rubber Ducky Boat Races set for Saturday

Photo by Eric Tichy One of the boats participating in last year’s Chautauqua Lake Dragon Boat Race. This year’s race, along with the Rubber Ducky Race, will happen Saturday at Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron.

CELORON — It’s time to see dragons and rubber duckies race on Chautauqua Lake.

The third annual Chautauqua Lake Dragon and Rubber Ducky Boat Races will be taking place Saturday at Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron. Starting at 7:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast to support Meals On Wheels of the Jamestown area, events will be happening all day and into the evening at the lakeside park.

The opening ceremony for the dragon boat races will start at 9 a.m. with races to begin around 9:30 a.m. The finals will be approximately around 4 p.m. Bill Stevenson, Dragon Boat Festival committee spokesperson, said there will be 31 teams this year, which is up from 28 last year. He said teams will be coming from Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Erie and Ithaca to participate in the team rowing event.

“They’re doing quite a bit of traveling to come here,” he said.

Originating in China 2,000 years ago, dragon boat racing is one the fastest growing water sports in the world. Races are held annually in Buffalo and in the Finger Lakes region. The event continues to be the only one of its kind on Chautauqua Lake.

Dragon boat racing is team-driven as participants work in unison to propel a 31-foot canoe through a designated course. Ten to 20 peddlers power the boat with one drummer in the bow to motivate and keep the peddlers in sync, a steer-person is provided in the stern to guide the boat.

Stevenson said proceeds from the dragon boat races benefit the Chautauqua Lake Association. He said there are two new categories this year – best dress and most interactive drummer.

“We are really happy to see it grow,” Stevenson said. “The public seems to know more about it. There is an increase in the number of people who ask about it. They understand it better now. At first, they were like, ‘What’s a dragon boat race.”

Stevenson said the Rubber Ducky Race will be back again this year too and will start following the last dragon boat race. People can purchase a rubber ducky for $5 at the Greater Chautauqua Federal Credit Union. He said each ducky has a number on it and if yours crosses the finish line first, you win $500. He added that around 2,000 duckies were sold last year and they are expecting more than 3,000 to be purchased this year.

“It is a lot of fun. Very entertaining,” he said. “Last year, we had more than 400 pounds of duckies and they only weigh 3 ounces.”

The Rubber Ducky Race benefits the Chautauqua Lake Association and Jamestown Lakers Sled Hockey.

Stevenson said there is also a new boardwalk and handicap kayak launch at Lucille Ball Memorial Park. He said there will also be vendors selling food and drinks.

For more information, visit chqdragonrace.org or Facebook.

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