For another year, the popular Dragon Boat and Asian Festival drew thousands of people to Hartford’s riverfront Saturday and the colorful and spirited competition welcomed an international contender for the first time.
Seventy-one teams, including China, took over the Connecticut River and hundreds more cheered them on. China’s team arrived in Hartford on Thursday.
“It’s exciting,” said Michael Zaleski, President and CEO of Riverfront Recapture. “It gives the opportunity for some of our club teams to compete against the best of the best.”
The Empire Dragons NYC were revved up to row. The group of women are all breast cancer survivors and have been in sync for years, taking home first place many times.
“We have actually raced this year in Baltimore and in Vermont and took the golds,” said team captain Donna Wilson.
Wilson said they have been hitting up the Hartford race for the past decade.
“It’s really exciting. It’s fast moving. I think the people that run this particular race do a really good job. It’s a little tricky because you’re on a river, so there’s current and there’s a tide up and down.”
The fast-paced race is a thrilling event for regulars and first-timers.
“Cheering for the team, just have a good time,” said Wai Lee of Queens, New York. “There’s a lot of waiting time but just cheer on your team and see their fellow competitors. It’s really fun.”