By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Longboats plied the Schuylkill River Saturday, as scores of teams competed in the Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival.
The teams – 21 to a boat, including a drummer to set the pace – lined up on the river’s east bank near St. Joe’s boathouse. Some were there for the fun of it, but a lot of teams were there to raise money for charities.
This year some of the recipients were Mercy Hospice, Trenton Rescue Mission, Erin’s Gift of Hope and the Headstrong Foundation.
Rich Gullick says the South Jersey Ski Club’s Fire and Ice Team has a history of paddling for a cause.
“We started in 2005, and we raised money for one or another cancer charity each year.”
This year, team leader Barb King says it’s personal.
“We are American Cancer Society — we lost a lot of friends this year to that dreadful disease — and the Wounded Warriors Project. We have two moms who just welcomed home their sons from Afghanistan.”
It’s a feast for the eyes and ears – and spectators aren’t the only ones drinking in the view. It was drummer Becky Horner’s first dragon boat event.
“I love it. And the adrenalin just gets going, and it’s so great to be out on the beautiful Schuylkill River. I’ve driven by for so many years, it’s so fun to be out there.”
And although the teams are there to compete, it feels more like a reunion. Rich Gullick’s team’s made it an annual event for seven years.
“It’s a wonderful festival, everyone’s friendly with all the neighboring teams, sharing food, sharing stories, and just enjoying a wonderful day on the river with all these great people and all this excitement. It’s a joy.”