Elaborate racing "dragons" invade Marathon's Sombrero Beach during the annual Battle in the Bay Dragon Boat Festival each May. The 2015 event is Saturday, May 16.
A unique direct-from-the-beach launch enables spectators to get close-up views of the sleek, 40-foot-long race boats. They can observe the boats in action as teams of 20 paddlers power them in unison along a 380-meter race course parallel to the beach — a display of strength and teamwork among men and women of all ages.
Dragons represent strength and are a powerful symbol of spring rains and growth in Chinese culture. The modern dragon boat race re-enacts a legend from the fourth century B.C. in which Qu Yuan, advisor to the emperor of the Ch'u dynasty, defied his ruler by drowning himself in the Mi Lo River. In a race to save their martyr Qu Yuan from the creatures of the deep, fishermen beat drums and vigorously splashed the water with their paddles.
Shoreside attractions during the races include food, beverages, merchandise, entertainment and kids' play areas.
Events are open to the public.