The Annual Junior League of Tuscaloosa Dragon Boat Festival is always held on the anniversary of the deadly tornado that hit the area in 2011. Unfortunately, the day after we left a huge storm took a life and caused great damage there. We hated to hear that. We’re thinking of everyone there.
This community knows how to pull together. Known as tornado alley, Tuscaloosa sees its share of disaster, but also resiliency. The city is full of history and tradition, and well known for great college football. These people are competitive, and the dragon boat race is no different. Coaches staffing this race were in T-town most of the week running practices. All staff arrived by Friday, when we finished practices and then enjoyed a lasagna dinner catching up with each other after a long off season. We had a great group working this first race of the year. On race day, teams were pumped and the large crowd cheered their teams. Paddlers brought their competitive spirit and fun nature. Drummers dressed in costumes. They really played the part. One drummer blew bubbles every time she was on the water. There was also a great deal of friendly trash talk.
The event is held at a restaurant, Cypress Inn, on the water. Participants and spectators have food and beer readily available. So, everyone was in a great mood! The winning teams were especially having fun. One team – Merecedes Benz – told their steerer they would give her a car if they won. Phaedra told me this while we were still on the water after a race. My team – Raymond James – said they would hook me up with a great retirement. “Who needs a car, when you could have a life on the water!” one of the paddlers said. Life on the water is already pretty awesome. It turns out, the car is a toy. But one can dream.
At the end of the day, races went well. We were on time, or early all day. The Junior League was happy with how everything went. They raised money and built more loyalty for the race with more teams and more fun!