What a magnificent success for the Parkes Dragon Boat Club at their Inaugural Launch at Lake Endeavour on Saturday, May 26.
An estimated three hundred people turned out on the day, including members of regional dragon boat clubs from Bathurst, Orange, Forbes and Dubbo.
The balmy autumn day was magic, casting its glittering sunlight onto the perfect blue water.
The day shimmered.
As said by new social member Nancye Blatch, “seeing the children with their shoes off paddling in the water, you would have thought it was summer”.
Town Crier Tim Keith’s impressive performance gained the attention of the large crowd for the commencement of the official proceedings.
Mayor Ken Keith led the welcome to Lake Endeavour.
“We are absolutely delighted to be here today for the launch of the Parkes Dragon Boat Club on Lake Endeavour,” he said.
“It’s been our pleasure as council to support them.”
Cr Keith told the crowd council was willing to look at the options when the club first suggested the idea of Lake Endeavour as a home for dragon boating.
He said because the lake was Parkes’ water supply, they had to check with the Department of Health and the Department of Fisheries if it was suitable to use.
“I officially launch Lake Endeavour as the home of the Parkes Dragon Boat Club,” Cr Keith said.
The special Wiradjuri Welcome to Country by Geoff Anderson was also well received: “Guwambanya-cu whiwha cargelico. Welcome to this lake”.
Geoff’s closest translation for dragon in Wiradjuri was “Miirin gadhang, angry lizard”.
But there were no angry lizards on Saturday as the Parkes Dragons couldn’t keep the smiles off their faces.
The traditional Chinese ceremony of the Awakening of the Dragon was read by steering committee member Debra Tooley, with Liesel Walters dotting the eyes of the dragon and wishing well to its crews.
Parkes Dragons’ coach Warren Edwards read the ancient paddlers’ oath – “I promise to take part in this sport showing mutual respect and abiding by the rules that govern, with the Dragon Spirit in heart and mind, for the glory of the dragon boat and the honour of all teams”.
To conclude the ceremony, the Awakened Dragon was ‘shown around’ in a circular paddle to introduce it to the Spirits of the Water in its new home of the lovely Lake Endeavour.
Following this program of events, paddlers queued up in droves for a try at paddling with this magnificent awakened dragon.
And no sooner would they reach the shore than they would rush over to the registration table to join up as members.
Councillor Bill Jayet, whose support has been marvellous, tried out the drummer’s position and was quite chuffed that he had a full crew paddling to his beat.
“The launch was a triumph for the tenacity of Beth and Bill Thomas in pushing for use of the lake as its stomping ground,” Cr Jayet said.
“It also emphasised how council, whenever possible, will willingly work with any group or organisation in making their dreams and aspirations come to fruition.
“In this regard it was my pleasure to assist and then witness first-hand the excitement of club and potential members following the impressive opening ceremony.”
Parkes Dragons’ president Bill Thomas thanked the Parkes Steering Committee for their great work in hosting such a triumphant day.
“The success of the day is due to the dedication of a good committee, to the Parkes Shire Council who have been so supportive, to the Parkes community for their amazing interest and support, and to the regional dragon boat community who have helped us out and have come along to share this wonderful event today,” he said.
The day concluded with the raffle draw winners. The hundreds clubs winners will be announced later.
The committee was delighted that the day raised close to $2000 for the new club.
The Parkes Dragons will train on Lake Endeavour on Sunday mornings.
Secretary/publicity officer, Beth Thomas, recommends that you check in with the Parkes Dragon Boat Club Facebook page each week before heading out to the Lake, or better still get your name onto the mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested, take heed of the advice of Mayor Ken Keith, “come out here. Become part of a team. Keep fit and healthy. And enjoy dragon boat racing”.