Gulf Coast Dragon Boat Festival

Click here to view Sponsorship, Participant, and Volunteer Opportunities

Frequently Asked Questions

What is dragon boat racing?

Dragon boating is a unique kind of boat racing. A dragon boat team consists of 20 paddlers sitting two abreast, a cox who steers the dragon boat from the rear and a drummer who sits at the front. The boat itself is 46 feet long and will go as fast as you can paddle! The team of paddlers work in unison to propel the boat forward from a standing start, the aim being to reach the finish line in the fastest time.

What are the origins of dragon boat racing?

Dragon boating began in China more than 2,000 years ago, originating from superstitious beliefs that the boat racing would ensure prosperous and bountiful crops. The dragon boat celebrations were conducted during the summer solstice, the time of the year when natural calamities such as disease and death were more prevalent. Accordingly, dragon boating has come to symbolize both humankind’s struggle against nature and the fight against dangerous enemies.

How does the festival benefit our community?

All proceeds from the festival directly benefit United Way of South Mississippi, which seeks to improve the health, education and financial stability of all people in Hancock, Harrison, Pearl River and Stone counties. Your United Way accomplishes its mission by awarding grants and operating programs that help meet critical community needs.

In July, we awarded $650,000 in community impact grants to 11 area nonprofits, which help fund programs like Project Learn at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast, the mobile food pantry program at Feeding the Gulf Coast and the children’s program at the Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence.

We operate PreK4Ward, which offers free preschool to 140 children; savings programs, including the FamilyWize prescription discount card and free tax preparation services; Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which delivers one book each month to children from birth to age 5; United Way Readers, which pairs adult volunteers with children to provide reading practice; and the Little Free Library program, which promotes neighborhood book exchanges through free public bookcases.

We also lead annual school supply, diaper and coat drives.

How can I help?

Easy … paddles up! Register you and your team members for this unique team-building experience. Sponsorship opportunities are listed at the above link, and there are also numerous volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in providing volunteers, please contact Kellee.

Total books given out to date through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Volunteer Hours in 2018

Dollars Invested in our Communities over the Past Year



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