With just a few weeks to go before the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival kicks off, teams of dragon boaters hit the water — some for the first time — last night after the first fleet of boats arrived at Mooney’s Bay yesterday.
From now until the festival kicks off on June 18, about 500 paddlers will practise every night, said the festival’s executive director, John Brooman.
This year, the three-day festival, which is the largest of its kind in North America, will see some 5,000 paddlers on 190 teams competing, said Brooman.
While many are local teams, competitive teams are coming from as far as Philadelphia and Victoria.
More than 75,000 spectators are expected to attend the event held at Mooney’s Bay.
New this year is a second stage for local bands Monkeyjunk and the Mighty Popo, while the main stage features headliners 54-40 and Bedouin Soundclash.
The Dragon Boat Foundation is hoping to raise a total of $400,000 to be shared among seven charities, including the Sens Foundation/Project S.T.E.P., the CHEO Foundation, Bruyère Foundation, ArtsSmarts, the Ottawa Humane Society, University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, and Debra Dynes Family House.