October is here, and so is the Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Race. Every year, the Schuylkill River is the race track for dozens of dragon boats as a part of a fundraiser for many of the city’s charity’s and organizations. With a scenic backdrop, hundreds gathered in tents to cheer on friends and family as they paddle down the river.
October 6th marked the 17th year of the festival. Races took place from 8 AM to 5:30 PM at the racecourse on Kelly Drive. Boaters of all ages were present. Competitors could be as young as 8 years old, but anyone under the age of 18 needed written consent and a signed waiver from a guardian before being allowed to participate.
The forecast was cloudy, but spirits were bright as the day went on. Party games and BBQs kept the energy high as racers awaited their round.
Competitor Maria Zorzy brought along her two sons, Brian (18 years old) and Michael Jr (21 years old) to partake in the festivities. Before grabbing her paddle to participate in the next round, Maria showed her sons around the festival, pointing out her favorite decorated porta potties. These mundane bathrooms underwent a serious makeover, a yearly tradition many organizations partake in.
Designs like a Voodoo shop were the more intricate ones, taking hours to complete, while others proudly displayed their organization’s logo.
Oldest son Michael Zorzy said, “I’ve been coming here for 5 years. I like supporting my family and love the atmosphere.” His mother agreed, stating that camaraderie was her favorite part of competing.
Maria Zorzy races for her charity, A Love For Life, an organization dedicated to assisting in pancreatic cancer research. She explained that this event was A Love For Life’s biggest fundraiser, making up the bulk of the $120,000 raised last year. Sponsors donate to the organization in return for having a spot on the team’s shirt. Donations from spectators are also collected.
The event was free to the public, and will return next October.