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ROC adds to the Chinese, American and British boats already plying the waters of
Blackstone Valley Tourism Council (BVTC) a leader in public river access in the
since 1989 has released the
names of six Dragon Boats that were built specifically for the Blackstone River
Valley of Rhode Island.
six unique racing vessels, each 50 feet in length come to the
sponsored by Taiwan ROC. The
boats were the centerpiece of the 2004
Chinese Dragon Boat Races & Taiwan Day Festival
Saturday, September 10, along the
new Dragon Boats will be the longest boats to ever ply the waters of the
in 156 years,” according to
BVTC President Robert D. Billington, who is also the coordinator of the race and
six new Dragon Boats imported from
The Glory of
The Beauty of
The Spirit of
The Friendship of
and Riverfront Lofts
addition, the region also has four other Dragon Boats, built in
, that were brought to
in 2000 by
businessman Louis Yip. These
boats previously competed in Dragon Boat races held on the
. These boats are named The
Golden Dragon; The Silver Dragon; The
and The Blackstone.
Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Race is modeled after the world famous Dragon
Boat Festivals held around the globe. The Dragon Boats are unique racing
vessels, designed with brightly colored Dragon heads and serpentine styled. Each
Dragon boat accommodates 16 paddlers, a drummer and a steerperson. Paddlers on
the boats row to the rhythmic drum beating during the races.
probably now have more Dragon Boats that any other waterway in the country,”
Billington noted with the combined flotilla of 10 Dragon Boats.
addition to the Dragon Boats, the
has four other boats that
BVTC operates along portions of the
and nearby waterways that are
part of the Blackstone American Heritage River System.
Blackstone Valley Explorer launched
in 1993 is a 49 passenger riverboat offering seasonal tours along portions of
Spirit of the Blackstone Valley launched
in 1994 is a 12 passenger rivercraft providing interpretive tours in the
region’s more shallow waters.
launched in 1999 and carries 49 passengers, which was custom built to provide
commuter ferry service.
boats were all built in the
Canal Boat Samuel Slater was
launched in 2000 and built in the
exclusively designed for use
. An authentic British canal
boat similar to those found in that nation’s waterways, it is the state’s
only floating bed and breakfast, accommodating four guests. As a tour boat, it
serves up to 12 passengers and in docked year round in
can boast the fact that we have made our historic river a popular destination
for cultural tourism, recreation and environmental interpretation, because of
the investment we have made in putting residents and visitors on the river,”
during the expansion of the American Industrial Revolution, begun in the
Blackstone River Valley in the late 18th century, the Blackstone
River was transformed from 1828-1848 as the prime transportation route
connecting the farms and factories inland from Worcester, MA southeasterly to
the ports of Providence, RI , situated at the head of Narragansett Bay. In that
20 year span, the
was constructed and canal
boats were a common site until 1848, when the railroads replaced boats.
1848 until 1989 the
was considered un-navigable.
However, 15 years ago, BVTC started experimental river tours along parts of the
to re-introduce the public to
the history and hidden nature along the river. This was done with leased
upon the success of those research tours, efforts began to raise money to build
a permanent riverboat for scenic, recreational and educational tours on the
. “People thought at the
time we were a bit crazy using glass bottom boats in our development phase of
opening the Blackstone River as a destination.” according to Billington.
started to raise money in the early 1990’s to build our first boat, the Blackstone
Valley Explorer, which just celebrated its 11th year in operation
last month. At the time, skeptics thought we would never have the money to build
the Explorer. Since August 1993 the Explorer
alone has carried over 275 thousand passengers and has cruised on six
regional rivers because of the boat’s shallow draft,” Billington added.
1998, as a result of the significance of being located in a National Heritage
Corridor, and with increase visitation along the river, the Federal Government
one of only 14 American
Heritage Rivers, due to the river’s importance to the nation’s social,
cultural and economic development.
and its adjoining waterways,
enjoy being “a river of cultural diversity” as it showcases how history,
recreation and celebrating ethnicity have all influenced the future in the
more about the upcoming Chinese Dragon Boat Races in September, the BVTC and
its many tourism programs, please call 401-724-2200 or visit the web at www.tourblackstone.com
9/6/03 - The Chinese Dragon Races were a huge success - of the River, of the weather,
of the friendships and exciting events and also for the strong Taiwanese
collaboration with the RI Tourist Council to coordinate this 4th annual event.
Thirty one teams participated, coming from New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Boston
and many competitive teams from local communities. Several municipalities
assembled challenging groups of up to 16 rowers per boat. Cranston, Pawtucket,
Providence, Cumberland as well as an all women's team from the National
Heritage Corridor, dubbed the Misfits (seen above), all worked competitively to
grab various cash prizes (for charity) and a dinner for 40. Pawtucket
dominated the other towns with repeated efforts throughout the heats and final
Along with the growing number of teams is the growing group of
spectators drawn by the exciting Chinese dancing, public speakers, including
Providence Mayor David Cicilline and Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey. RI
Representative Patrick Kennedy was on hand and also rowed and placed second in
one competition with his "Patrick and Patrick" team.
A huge tent , surrounded by streaming colors of Chinese silks
and alluring dragons, was filled with attentive listeners as a series political
and other guests, including RI Governor Donald L.
Carcieri spoke of the contributors to produce this wonderful success. As
the range of public speakers drew to a close, a special treat arose - 94 year
old Billy Hume, along with his daughter in her 70s, played a mean
harmonica and then surprised the crowd with a rousing ditty. Applause burst
throughout the tent as the energy from his quick rendition was visibly
One of the special gifts highlighted was a $1000. donation
from Memorial Hospital towards a Breast Cancer Awareness Race which hosted five
teams. This is just one of many events being coordinated to raise funds for this
The dragon race heats were running every 20 minutes or so
throughout most of the day starting before 9 a.m.. Parking was close by or
direct shuttle was available every twenty minutes from the Visitors Center
offering plenty of parking, too. Chinese food, crafts and dancing continued
throughout the day.
Blackstone Daily got a chance to speak with Rhode Island's
Governor and his lovely wife, Suzanne, a retired science teacher. Both expressed
concern about the watershed and the need to work with Massachusetts officials
and associations to effectively continue to lessen impacts to the River and its
many tributaries. The Governor expects to see that goal move forward shortly.