Take Me to the Flaming River 

Dragon boats sail down the Cuyahoga in annual tribute to old-time China.

Long ago in China, riverboat races simulated the twists and turns of dragons to encourage a prosperous harvest. Fast-forward thousands of years, and see hundreds of Northeast Ohioans paddle the Cuyahoga River during today's Dragon Boat Festival as 20 crew members, a cadence drummer, and a steersman glide a 40-foot canoe through a 500-meter course. "It definitely encourages people to learn how to work together," says Michael Ciccarello, the race's coordinator. "So this is the perfect way to organize corporate team-building right on the river."Since 2003, boat clubs from the Warehouse District, the Flats, and Tremont have competed at the fest. This year, Ciccarello has put out an APB to military, police, and firefighting personnel to join in on the races. "This isn't just a bunch of guys on the river," he says. "We want to foster a community connection." The fest runs from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today with registration tables at 1283 Riverbed Street on the West Bank of the Flats. Fee is $45 to compete; to watch is free. Call 216-566-1046 or visit www.clevelanddragonboatfestival.com.
Sat., July 5, 9 a.m.-8 p.m., 2008

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