Citizens Bank and Dragonheart Vermont are thrilled to be able to host the second annual Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival. Last years event raised $35,000 which purchased an ultrasound machine for the Radiation/Oncology department at Fletcher Allen Health Care. This years beneficiary will be the Vermont Respite House, VNAs Hospice of the Champlain Valley, and Dragonheart Vermont. This now annual event will take place on Sunday, Aug. 5 at Burlingtons Waterfront Park. Team registration is now open with 75 team slots available. Festival organizers are soliciting Vermont and New York businesses, service organizations and other interested groups to form teams and join the races. No paddling experience is necessary and you dont need to be an athlete to participate. Its a full day of fun, color and pageantry with entertainment, food, a silent auction and cultural events for the whole family. Last years team roster filled up fast and some teams missed out, so hurry! Visit www.ridethedragon.org for complete information and on-line registration. According to Dragonheart Vermont Executive Director, Linda Dyer, Dragon boat racing is the ultimate team sport because all 20 people must paddle in sync as the drummer beats the cadence of the stroke. Its a lot of fun and a great team-building experience. Participants must be at least 16 years of age. Each boat carries 20 paddlers and a drummer with at least 8 of them women. The team entry fee of $1300 includes the boat, a coach/steersperson, paddles, and personal flotation devices. Team race fees also include a professionally coached practice session prior to Race Day. Each team will race in two heats with their combined race times to compete for a divisional cup. The top 25 teams will move to a third race to determine who will be the winner of the Citizens Bank Champ Cup. There are many ways to get involved as a corporate sponsor, festival program sponsor, volunteer, program book ad donor or silent auction donor. Dyer said of this years festival beneficiary, the Vermont Respite House, Were thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce people to the sport of Dragon Boating, and we really encourage local businesses and service groups to get a team together and join the fun! Its all for an important cause, to help terminally ill people and their loved ones cope with the challenges that come as a family member faces the end of life. Dragonheart Vermont has over 100 members. The organization will be launching a third dragon boat this May and will christen her "Jill Violette" in memory of their first team member. Last year, two teams from Hinesburg participated in the first ever Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival. Several Hinesburg residents are also members of Dragonheart Vermont including: Linda Gruppi, Kristi Johnson, Earla Sue McNaull, and Diane Telford. About Dragon Boating A Dragon boat is a 41 long fiberglass canoe seating 20 paddlers. A steersperson stands in the stern and a drummer beats out the stroke cadence in the bow. Races are fast and furious lasting between 2 and 3 minutes. Dragon boating is an ancient Chinese sport honoring the spirit of the dragon in hopes of bringing good fortune to the community. Dragon boating today is the second most popular team sport in the world. There are nearly 50 million people who currently take part in dragon boat races worldwide including dragon boat teams in every major US and Canadian city. In September 2007, the Dragonheart Vermont breast cancer survivor team will compete in Abreast in Australia, an international dragon boat festival comprised of 150 breast cancer survivor teams from around the world. Citizens Bank is this years presenting sponsor. For on-line registration and complete festival information, visit www.ridethedragon.org Orientation: Dragonheart Vermont would also like to announce this years Orientation scheduled for May 16 in the Amphitheater Room, Sheraton Hotel in Burlington from 7pm-9 p.m. Anyone interested in finding out more about the sport of dragon boating and joining Dragonheart Vermont are welcome. No athletic experience necessary, Men and Women, ages 16 and up; Breast Cancer Survivors encouraged to attend.