Fresh Off the Boat – Our joyful time

Adrienne Lee

Consolation 1st place, 2nd place and Championship Gold trophies

Editor’s word: The Milwaukee dragon boat race includes seven divisions. They are Diamond (钻石组), Jade(玉石组), Pearl(珍珠组), Rudy(红宝石组), Emerald(绿宝石组), Sapphire(蓝宝石组)和 Amber(琥珀组). Each division has two heats with four teams each, the faster heat is called Championship, the slower heat is called Consolation. The first 3 places in the Championship final race receive gold, silver and bronze medals, and the gold team also receives a trophy.

Championship Gold, Silver and Bronze medals

The first 2 places in the Consolation final race get a trophy each. The first round of the race puts all teams into different divisions by time. The second round of race puts the teams into Championship and Consolation heats within each division.

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The Dragon Boat Festival (龙舟节) is one of the most significant Chinese festivals. It’s based on the Chinese legend about the poet 屈原. It provides fun for all.


The annual Milwaukee Dragon Boat Festival has brought joy to the visitors for seven years through Chinese traditions and cultures, featuring the big dragon boat race. This year’s race was no exception!

The team was at practice at Pewaukee River

My team, MCCC YLA “Fresh Off the Boat”, led by the captain Mia Lee, had two practices at the Pewaukee River before the competition. Our team was composed of 11 girls and 14 boys, some with years of experience, and others(like me!) who just started this year. Our coach taught us various effective techniques to row the 40-foot-long boats. It helped prepare us for the races on the day of the festival.
Early in the morning on Saturday, August 8th – the day of the Dragon Boat festival – my teammates and I all woke up early to get to Lakeshore State Park to check-in. Even then, the whole air of the festival was buzzing with excitement. Looking around, there were many tents pitched for all different teams and different types of booths.

Our first race was at 9:30am. We were the youngest team there. The first round we ended up receiving the fourth place which leaded us to Sapphire(蓝宝石组) division. In between the races, we had plenty of time to explore. People walking around could watch many performances on stage, such as square dancing and martial arts.

The team practice between the races

There were also many other sources of entertainment, like face painting at the arts booth and bouncy houses. Visitors could even enjoy Chinese cuisine sold there, especially the yummy lamb skewers and 粽子(a traditional Chinese food mentioned in the Dragon Boat Festival origin legend) which were both sold out long before the festival ended.

Later on, in the second-round race, we paddled so hard our muscles got sore. We placed 3rd in that round, which moved us up to the Sapphire division championship heat! In the final race, we did even better, which won us 2nd place in the Sapphire division. Each person on the team got a silver medal for our achievement. Everybody was so excited!

Team “Fresh off the Boat” won the 2nd place in the Sapphire division

Racing on dragon boats was a great team-building activity, a great form of exercise while still being fun. The festival gave insight to Chinese culture to all who came to enjoy it. It’s needless to say that everyone is looking forward to another year of racing and celebration!

About the author: Adrienne Lee is 14 years old so she was right at the cutoff to be on the dragon boat race team. She is currently a freshman at Nicolet High School. In her free time, she loves to bike with her friends.

Pictures are provided by MCCC YLA team

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