This Saturday, June 28th, The Chicago Dragon Boat Race For Literacy, one of the most unique cultural events of the city, will take place at Ping Tom Memorial Park (300 West 19th Street).
Founded back in summer of 2000 in Chicago, the sport of dragon boat races actually dates back over 2,000 years in the Chinese and Asian communities. This year, the Chicago Dragon Boat Race for Literacy celebrates its 14th annual competition. More than 25 teams filled with residents of Chinatown and surrounding Chicago neighborhoods will file into their Dragon Boats and hit the South Branch Chicago River waters and compete to be the fastest boat. Each boat is shaped with the head of a dragon and is filled with about 20 paddlers who row in unison to be the fastest - quite a feat to see with your own eyes.
The activities begin at 8:00 a.m. at the picturesque Ping Tom Memorial Park, which overlooks the southern branch of the Chicago River. Opening ceremonies begin at 9:00 a.m. and the race and activities end at 5:00 a.m. with the awards ceremony. Admission to view the Boat Race is everybody's favorite price: free! If you prefer to stay on solid ground, plenty of other on-land events and activities such as live music, dance performances, and booth vendors will take place during the day and continue into the early afternoon.
This is a great family event to celebrate your culture or to learn about another culture as the Dragon Boat Race expects more than 10,000 residents to pack the park and watch the river.
It's worth mentioning that all of this is in partnership with the Chicago Park District, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Office of the 25th Ward Alderman Daniel Solis, Chicago Marine Heritage Society and the Friends of the Chicago River. As you could probably tell from the title, proceeds from this year's boat race will be generously donated to support and promote local literacy, cultural and diversity programs.
So make sure you come out this year to take part in the cultural festivities!