MARIETTA — Dragons gliding across Lake Allatoona, Vikings coming to shore screaming battle cries and a dance-off between Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling and Cobb County Commissioner Bob Weatherford.
Those were some of the highlights of the second annual Acworth Dragon Boat Festival at Dallas Landing Park Saturday morning.
The event saw teams of 20 racing across the lake in 30-foot-long boats decorated with dragon heads while a drummer on each boat marked the paddling pace. Some of the teams represented Cobb County, Kennesaw, Acworth and Powder Springs, with officials and staff from each government taking part in a four-team race for best in the county. The festival was organized as a fundraiser by Loving Arms Cancer Outreach and Dragon Boat Atlanta, two local cancer-fighting organizations.
Linda Evans, past president of Dragon Boat Atlanta, said the sport got its start 2,000 years ago in China. It became popular among breast cancer survivors in the 1980s after Canadian sports medicine specialist Don McKenzie organized races for survivors to come together for solidarity and to restore their physical strength after treatment.
“From that, with breast cancer survivors, it’s grown worldwide in 20 years,“ Evans said. “Like, our team has been around since 2004. That’s how it got to the states, and it has blown up. It will probably be in the Olympics in the next one or the one after.“
Like Dragon Boat Atlanta, Loving Arms provides support for breast cancer survivors and patients in the metro area.