Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dragons not fired up

February 16. 2013 4:08PM

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WILKES-BARRE – The dragon boat race for September is sunk.

According to race organizers, the event planned for Sept. 8-9 in the Susquehanna River has been canceled and will be rescheduled for Riverfest 2013 in June.

"The dragon boat race could become a much bigger event by being a part of Riverfest," said John Maday, a volunteer with the annual event. "Right now, Riverfest will be held next June 21-22-23. The dragon boats will race on Sunday."

Dragon boat racing has been a part of Riverfest the last two years, but organizers decided to try to make it a separate event in the fall. Some boats already had been sponsored by local businesses, and Maday said most of them are in agreement with moving the event to next year.

"We did end up with some sponsorships not coming in, and some people thought it would be best to put it off until next year," Maday said. "Some companies told us September is not the best time to be adding events to their budgets."

The dragon boat races during Riverfest have attracted eight to 10 teams, but Maday said next year's event should bring in 20 to 30 boats.

The annual Riverfest community festival features a variety of entertainment and educational events, including the boat races.

Vinnie Cotrone, who has served as president of the Riverfront Parks Committee, said the dragon boat event "fits perfectly" with Riverfest.

"Some teams told us it would be financially tough to come up a sponsorship at this time and next year would be better," Cotrone said. "In order to bring (boats) down from Canada, you have to have enough teams to support it."

Cotrone said the boats are rented from 22Dragons of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

"The Wyoming Valley has seen dragon boat racing twice and its popularity is slowly growing," Cotrone said. "It needs another year as part of Riverfest before it can become its own separate event."

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