SPARTA, NJ – It was not exactly great boating weather on Sunday.  That did not stop hundreds of people from spending the day on Lake Mohawk for the second annual Dragon Boat Festival.  The event was a fundraiser for the Sparta Education Foundation.

The comradery and competitive spirit was not dampened by the constant wind, 45-degree weather, occasional shower and even a brief hail storm.

This year 52 teams competed, 10 more than last year. Each 46-foot, Hong Kong style dragon boat had 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steerer.  The windy weather required the drummer to sit lower in the boat, going without the drum. 

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 “It is just a thrill to be at the Dragon Boat Festival, whether you are one of over 1,000 paddlers on the 52 teams or cheering on the racers as a spectator,” said Dorothy LaBeau President of the Sparta Education Foundation.  “This year’s event is even larger than our inaugural festival in 2015.  We are incredibly grateful to have so many people supporting our students, which enables us to fund future grants for our public schools.’

Arrrgh Isle Paddlers won the Best Costume Award.  Hair Raising Dragons from Mancuso Salon won the Spirit Award.  Chad Reid won the raffled paddle board.

The professional team New Jersey Dragons took the first place medal for a club team. Recreational teams were awarded three places:  

  • Sparta Station Athletics  A finished first with at time of 1:04.17
  • RedShed Crossfit took second with a time of 1:05.11
  • RDA Fitness took third with a time of 1:05.3

The final total for this year has not yet been calculated.  Last year’s event raised approximately $30,000 according to a Sparta Education Foundation volunteer.

Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing provided the boats and steerers, set up the race, offered training runs and kept score.  They are based in Knoxville, TN and have managed races in Decatur, Alabama, Fort Wayne Indiana, St Lawrence River New York and others.

The Dragon Boat Festival was the last event of a week-end packed with community events.  Saturday started with the Girls on the Run 5K and Mohawk 8-mile run, Sparta Day and the Kiwanis Duck Races.  On Sunday, the Lake Mohawk Country Club hosted the Tasting on the Boardwalk, though it was moved indoors to the main ballroom because of the weather.

“One of the best aspects of the Dragon Boat Festival is how it promotes community pride,” said LaBeau.  After the fantastic success of last year’s inaugural event, we got lots of positive feedback.  We are happy that this highly anticipated event is back for its second year.”

Sara Stanulis on Eastern Propane’s team said, “It sounded like an awesome thing to do and for a good cause.”

Jon Trotta and Joe Passalaqua of Sparta Station Athletics said, “We looked forward to this all year.  We instantly filled two boats as soon as we posted the signup sheets.  Next year we’ll have three boats.”

Edward Denmead of the Nauti by Nature team said, “It is an awesome event.  There is such a variety of people who participate; people who go to the gym and people who like to party.  It’s a good day.”

LaBeau thanked the sponsors who made the day possible.  “The success of the Dragon Boat Festival is based on the generosity of our sponsors.”  The sponsors:

Major Sponsor: Newton Medical Center- Atlantic Health System  

Friends of the Festival:

  • Fogarty and Hara Counsellors at Law 
  • Northern Pride Web Design
  • Lake Mohawk Country Club

In-Kind Sponsors:

  • George Morville at Arthur J Gallagher & Company,
  • Brown and Brown Benefit Advisors,
  • Nisivoccia LLP, Certified Public Accountants and Advisors,
  • Villa Capri II Restaurant
  • Lake Mohawk Pool

LaBeau thanked many others including “Mark Musilli, Blake Hargrave and the entire Lake Mohawk Country Club staff, the Lake Mohawk Country Club board, The Lake Mohawk Papoose, Rich Carlson and the Lake Mohawk life guards and Marine Patrol.” She thanked “Sparta Township, Sparta Police department for their continued support of our events, Captain Brad Erickson and the Sparta Ambulance Squad, Sparta School District Administration, the staff from each of the five schools that had boats on the water, participants and spectators.”

Dynamic Dragon Boat Racing provided the boats and steerers, set up the race, offered training runs and kept score.  They are based in Knoxville, TN and have managed races in Decatur, Alabama, Fort Wayne Indiana, St Lawrence River New York and others.

Since its founding in 2006 the Sparta Education Foundation has “raised over $657,000 for grants” to the Sparta’s public schools according to LaBeau.  “Recent grants include 25 iPads for Alpine School, an electric piano for Mohawk Avenue School, Sphero Robotic Balls for Helen Morgan, a professional-grade poster maker for the Sparta Middle School and a coral reef aquarium and 180 HP Chromebook laptop computers for the high school,” she said. 

This year's teams:

  • Dragon Our Tails
  • Team Spartacular
  • Oar We There Yet?
  • Team Inspire
  • Smoke on the Water
  • Loon-a-Sea      
  • RedShed Crossfit
  • Oar Else
  • Blazong Paddles
  • We don’t give two ships
  • Wellness Pediatrics
  • Lake Mohawk Ski Hawks
  • Team Tsunami
  • Castoffs
  • NPowerNinjas
  • Cast & More’s Dragons (Team Henry)
  • Twin Hickory Rum Runners
  • That’s How We Row
  • Alpine Puccle Jumpers,
  • JC’s Bravest
  • Team Smagalla
  • We Be Bookin’
  • RDA Fitness
  • Ship Faced Realty Executives
  • The Arrrgh Isle Paddlers
  • OARganized Chaos
  • Hair Raising Dragons
  • Team Eastern Propane
  • Weichert Warriors
  • The Thirsty Dragons
  • Team Ruh Roh!
  • Knock Out Dragons
  • Dragon Our Asses
  • NJ Dragon Boat
  • Lake Tranquility Community Club
  • Forty Fists of Fury
  • Drgaon Slayerz
  • Nauta’s Naughty Dragons
  • Sparta Station Athletics A and B
  • Ball and Chain
  • Team Fireball
  • Lake Mohawk Maulers
  • Star Oars – Helen Morgan School
  • Beastie Buoys
  • Hot Mamas
  • Team 4-titude
  • Nauti By Nature Crew
  • Crew U – Sparta High School
  • Holy Ship
  • Born to Row
  • Team Titanic