Louisiana’s dragon boat races have moved to a new lake

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Participants compete in a dragon boat race as part of celebrations marking the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, held throughout Hong Kong, Friday, June 7, 2019. Dragon boat races are in remembrance of Chu Yuan, an ancient Chinese scholar-statesman, who drowned in 277 B.C. while denouncing government corruption. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — The currents of the Red River have forced the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races to move to a new location.

Dragon boat racing is a team sport in which people in long, narrow boats bearing a dragon’s head paddle to the beat of a drum.

Louisiana’s 10-year-old dragon boat races have typically been held on the Alexandria side of the Red River, but the uncertainty of the river is prompting the event to move to Lake Buhlow in Pineville for this year’s May 2 race day — and for the foreseeable future. The Town Talk reports the lake was used for the races in 2016 and 2019 when conditions on the river were deemed unsafe because of high water, strong currents and debris.

“Every year, as the river rises, our concerns about safety rise, as well,” said Catherine Pears, executive director of the Alexandria Museum of Art. “Not to mention, what’s involved with moving the event at the last minute is pretty intense.”

The races are a fundraiser for the museum, becoming so popular that the city of Alexandria built a festival around it. Plans for this year’s river festival haven’t been announced.

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