There are numerous water competitions in the world that boast history, teammanship, and beautiful crafts of every size.
But the sleek and quick dragon boats, those traditional racing vessels that blossomed in southern China a couple of millennia ago, do seem to stand a head above the rest. That's in part because they actually sport dragon heads -- or full dragon busts -- on the front of the boat and the body. You can see it in brightly painted "scales" along the sides.
Add in the on-board drummer and the multiple rowers all dipping into the water at the very same time and you have a visual and stirring event that's captivated viewers for thousands of years.
We're fortunate in Southern California, because Long Beach is the site of an annual dragon boat gathering each summer.
The boats are ready to glide again, under the power of people, drums, and the mythological creature at the front, at the Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28 at Marine Stadium.
Billed as "one of the largest dragon boat competitions in California," the Long Beach event is big. How big? Over 100 teams participate and each of those teams boasts 30 people.
But the action isn't all on the waves. Martial arts demos, traditional lion dances, and tunes fill out the on-land to-dos. Food, too, is part of the festive scene.
The races kick-off at 9:30 a.m. on July 27. The closing ceremony is at 3:30 on July 28.