Youth council organizes boat races

June 20th, 2016

News Coverage:

June 20, 2016

Youth council organizes boat races

Jamie Duffy | Journal Gazette

It’s summertime again, and that means the Fort Wayne Dragon Boat Races on the St. Marys River are coming.

The Mayor’s Youth Engagement Council, a group of 21 local high school students responsible for organizing the event, has expanded the activities for this second race event. There will be more bands performing at the daylong extravaganza Saturday, including a ukulele band, according to the music coordinator, Brandon Blumenherst from Homestead High School.

There will also be more food and retail vendors. It’s a family event and money raised from competitors will be donated to local charities and to Parkview Regional Health’s Cancer Institute under construction in Fort Wayne, said Karen L. Richards, the city’s community liaison for special programs.

Dragon boat races are a 2,000-year-old tradition that is just now coming to Fort Wayne, according to Romeo Morris, a South Side student and the council’s president. The brightly painted boats are supplied by Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing of Knoxville, Tennessee, and come with trainers, oars and life jackets.

“If you don’t practice, you don’t race,” Richards said at a recent council meeting. This meeting took place down at the river dock at Headwaters Park West, where participants will board their 42-foot boats on race day. Crews must have 20 paddlers and one drummer to man them.

Last year, there were 25 dragon boats, and the Mayor’s Youth Engagement Council was able to hand over $13,000 to charity. The 300-meter race starts at 8 a.m. at Headwaters West, heads up to the Wells Street Bridge and back. To participate, a boat costs $2,100. The council supplies arm bands, trophies for the top three finishers and additional gifts for each paddler. 

The teams are from local companies and organizations including title sponsor Parkview Regional Medical Center. Other sponsors include Lincoln Financial Group, 21Alive, Ivy Tech Community College, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and several teams from the city of Fort Wayne.

The Fort Wayne Chinese Friends and Family Association will be on hand for an opening ceremony.

Richards said Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation will supply bleachers to watch the race. Sweetwater Sound will sponsor the music tent. To register, parties can now pay with credit cards online at

Members of the council include president Morris; Hope Steele, vice president, Canterbury; Deborah Choe, secretary, Canterbury; Kenzie Riley, New Tech Academy; Kaleb McCague and Ce Ce Baldus, Snider; Emily Lahey, Heather Klinger, Larryn Jones and Shrina Patel, Concordia; George Sun, Haseeb Akbar and Danial Mohammed, Canter­bury; Matthew Hope, Emma Pearl and Brandon Blumenherst, Homestead; Emma Bailey, Blackhawk Christian; Joshua Wolfe, Bishop Dwenger; Jazmyn Hernandez and Mydgie Pierre-Louis, North Side; and Abigail Reyes, Wayne.