Dragon boaters and their fans proved themselves a tenacious bunch this past weekend.

The weather, which changed from hot and sunny to cloudy and rainy several times during the Tim Hortons Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, failed to deter people from attending North America's biggest dragon boat festival.

The event drew a record 75,000 people, including 5,000 paddlers from across the continent, according to the festival's executive director, John Brooman.


Minutes before the closing ceremonies began at Mooney's Bay on Sunday, Brooman called the event "amazing" and "unbelievable."

"We've had a lot of positive changes on site," he said. "And that's allowed us to accommodate more people."

Although the fundraising totals won't be in until sometime this week, Brooman is confident the Ottawa Dragon Boat Foundation has exceeded its fundraising goal of $350,000, which will benefit seven Ottawa charities including the Sens Foundation/Project S.T.E.P., the CHEO Foundation, Bruyère Foundation, ArtsSmarts, the Ottawa Humane Society, the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research and Debra Dynes Family House.

Despite attracting world-class dragon boaters -- including a Canadian Navy team from Victoria and competitive paddlers from Philadelphia and New York state -- the event is really about community, said Brooman. "We're definitely reaching out and people can't believe what we're doing here," he said.

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