Tears were shed and hugs shared as members of the Women Alike Abreast a River dragon boat team spilled out of their boat following the pink carnation ceremony, and the George Street bridge was filled with people as pink carnations floated down to the river.
The New Glasgow Race on the River dragon boat festival was a huge success for its 11th year on the East River with 41 teams of 20 in friendly competition for the Bruce F. Murray Memorial Cup.
The funds raised during the event surpassed organizers’ expectations, with a total of $160,217.22. Funds raised support the Women Alike Breast Cancer Survivor’s Society, Special Olympics Northern Region and Pictou County Prostate Cancer Support Association.
In the 11 years of the festival, this was a new record for funds raised, beating last year’s new record of approximately $150,000.
“I was very surprised,” says Pat Martin, festival president. “There is a lot going on in the county lately, especially this weekend and we still had four new teams, bringing our total to 41 teams this year. The generosity of the local community to give, it’s just amazing.”
The total raised seems to increase each year.
“It has been a tough year for fundraising and we are very fortunate,” says Martin.
The dragon boat festival differs from other festivals in that they strive to make it a family event centred on sportsmanship and friendly competition.
At the opening ceremonies, Martin noted there have been more than 1,000 races on that river with not one mishap, perhaps jinxing the event with the very first tip over occurring at the 8:45 a.m. race.
“I did the math, we have had 960 teams on the river over the 11 years with not one mishap, then we had to mention it and the very next morning Lawtons team went overboard,” says Martin. “Now we have that behind us, it’s just one of those things… (the boats) are very tippy.”
The safety crew was on hand to rescue the 20 members and their drummer and coxswain from the river.
“The safety crew responded and everyone stayed with the boat until the situation was calmed down and then we got to bailing. Everyone was fine and accounted for and returned to the water for their second race and won.”
The winner of the Scotiabank cup and the Bruce F. Murray Memorial Cup was the Scotiabank Scotia Dragon Slayers with a time of 1:06:06 and 1:13:03 respectively.
The winner of the Travel Our Way Cup was Team SOS and the East Coast FM Cup went to Our Kijus’s.
The McDonald’s Cup was taken away by Pictou Academy while the Michelin Cup went to High Seas Highlanders.
The Sobeys Cup was won by Leil’s Safe Lifters and the Advocate Cup for the breast cancer race was won by the Women Alike Abreast a River.
The top team pledge earners was Crombie Crushers raising $50,125.98 and the individual pledge earners were for corporate Glenn Hynes with $22,500 and community was Florence vanVeen with $4,792.
“We are very pleased,” says Martin. “We proved, notwithstanding our oops in the morning, our safety measures were in place and working very well. This is something we were able to learn from and it was a very successful day. It was a big challenge to catch up after the delay, but we came through and are very pleased with the event and the funds raised. It was a good day.”
The Race on the River committee will be continuing their monthly meetings, beginning with the planning of next year’s event.
“We have a new board with new members who have fresh ideas,” he says. “There are approximately 200 volunteers onsite during the festival who have been there since the beginning. It’s something they are excited about and look forward to every year. As president I have a very strong group behind me and we had some very strong teams competing throughout the days and taking the event seriously. It is just wonderful.”
As a thanks to the 200 volunteers, Martin says there will be a volunteer appreciation night October 17, so mark your calendars.