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  • Welcome aboard Rusty Dawg!
    The ugliest boat in Long Beach’s Marine Stadium. My friend Jon would say “if you can’t have the best boat you’d better have the ugliest”. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon he treated us to a harbor cruise upon his dazzling craft.

    Jon, my husband and I are watching the Dragon Boat races at Marine stadium. Big crowds for this event. At the bow of the ship stands the drummer who drums the strokes. There are about twenty rowers and one oarsman at the rear. The boats are decorated in different colored geometric patterns with the dragon head at the front of the bow. I had never seen these races before, so it was a treat to see the boats and the enthusiasm of the crowds for the event.

    The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of the ancient patriot-poet, Qu Yuan, who lived from 340-278 B.C. during the Warring States period of China. Qu Yuan, was a minister to the king and advocated reforms to his home state of Chu. The King fell under the influence of jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan. As a result the King banished Qu Yuan from the state of Chu.

    Qu Yuan went into exile in the state of Jiangnan. He spent much of his time collecting legends and rearranging folk stories while traveling the countryside, producing some of the greatest poetry in Chinese literature. In 278, Qu Yuan’s home was invaded. He was overcome by sadness and committed suicide by throwing himself into the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth moon.

    When the people of the province heard of his misfortune they took their fishing boats to the river and searched for him by beating drums and hitting the water with their paddles to keep the fish and evil spirits from his body. Afraid that the fish would eat his body they threw rice into the water so that his body would be spared and that he might not suffer hunger.

    The act of searching for his body in the boats gradually turned into the Dragon boat race, which is held every year on the anniversary of his suicide.

    When we decided to go for a little cruise we didn’t know we would witness an event that had taken place annually for over 20 centuries as part of religious ceremonies and folk custom. People had come from all over the United States to participate in this event. Not a bad view from the “ugliest boat” in the Long Beach Marine Stadium.
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