July 2, 2009

Meet the Dragon Boat Festival teams...

Johnson Bank Vikings paddling up the Root River,
with Kenosha West Rotarian Craig Phillips at the helm

The real stars of the Great Midwest Dragon Boat Festival are the teams themselves, consisting of 20 paddlers, a drummer to mark the stroke and a helmsman. Besides practicing for the July 10 and 11 competition, some of the teams competing in Racine's Great Midwest Dragon Boat Festival have lavished time and work in coming up with original names. This year there are 45 teams (down from 58 last year); here's some background on 24 of them:

AngelFish: "A student 'Name the Team' contest was held three years ago, and AngelFish was the winning name of St. Catherine's team. Angel's is our school mascot. We are sponsored this year by a friend of St. Catherine's and we are the two-time defending champions. Our team is comprised of current students, parents, alumni, teachers and friends of SCHS. Our team leader is 2009 alumni Joey Granite and we are happy to see so many of last year's alumni participating." -- Celeste Henken

Arashi: "Arashi (are-a-she) is Japanese for 'storm.' As members of the Racine Dragon Boat Club, we are a self-sponsored, traveling team. In 2009 we are competing in Tampa, Racine, Lake Superior & Oshkosh. We start our season paddling in the pool in January and move to the boats May through October."

aROARa: "Our team is sponsored by Aurora Health Care. This is our second year competing in the dragon boat race. The team had a great time last year; the excitement of the actual race and being able to work together was great. Our team is made up of mostly employees and a couple of family members. We do have a few new paddlers this year. They are really excited."

Bucky’s Concrete Crew: "Bucky’s Concrete Crew is associated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Concrete Canoe team. The team is comprised of students, alumni, and family members. This being the team’s first year of participation, we hope to gain experience, sportsmanship, and team unity that will aid us in our regional and national competitions throughout the country. The UW-Madison Concrete Canoe team has advanced to the national level for the past 16 years and has come away with five national titles. We hope our knowledge in building and racing a concrete canoe will help us in sinking the competition. We are going to display this year's concrete boat, "Cutting Edge," on the festival grounds." --Julie Chapman

Carnauba Waxers: The team is sponsored by the JMBA (Johnson Mutual Benefit Association), which is part of the recreation organization for SCJohnson. This is the team’s fourth year in the event. We chose the Carnauba Waxers name as a tribute to the Johnson family and their grandfather's expedition in search of Carnauba Wax. The year we became the Carnauba Waxers is the same year the Johnson Family found the original plane the was a part of the expedition. It was a good feeling that year and every year we compete in the event. Everyone on the boat is an employee of SC Johnson.

City Slickers Dragon Boat Team: "The City Slickers Dragon Boat team is made up of City of Racine employees and family members as well as patrons of our sponsor’s tavern, Joey’s on 6th Street. Our sponsor, Joey LeGath , who is also a member of the team, is the owner of four taverns in Racine including, Joey’s on 6th Street, Joey’s on Taylor, Joey’s on Douglas, and his newest establishment, Joey’s on Lathrop. Two other local celebrities on the team are Alderman Jeff Coe and Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen. The City Slickers have been participating in the Dragon Boat Races for the past 5 years and our biggest rival is Racine County’s 'Flyin’ Dragons.' --Jennifer Ebben

Cooling Running Dragons: "This is the Modine team name because Modine is in the engine cooling business and since the dragon boat has an 'engine' section in the boat the engine (and the rest of the boat) should be running 'cool.' Some teams from prior years may remember us as the 'Hot Dawgs,' named after a type of commercial heater manufactured by Modine. Modine Mfg. is our sponsor and has been for the four years." --Marty Weishoff

Draggin’ Dragons: "This will be the fifth year for the Draggin’ Dragons. Last year we took 1st place in the Family and Friends category and we came in 12th overall. Our goal has been to be in the top 10 boats overall by our 5th year, so this is an extremely exciting year for us and we are going full out! We are also anticipating the 2010 races as by then we will have a four-generation boat! The team is self-sponsored and made up entirely of our family and circle of friends. Even those who are not in the boat have responsibilities: the children participate in the parade and take turns carrying our dragon, Graunge; some individuals provide childcare; others are in charge of capturing the event in photos and video; and some just come down to cheer for us! Our boat is dedicated to George and Jeanne Grabher. Jeanne never had a chance to see us race but we carry her name on our shirts, so she rides with us in every race!" --Karen Grabher

Draggin’ You Down: "Draggin’ You Down is sponsored by McLane Foodservice – Milwaukee, located west of I-94 in Sturtevant. With 232 employees we service seven states, supplying the industry’s leading quick-service restaurant chains. This is McLane’s second year sponsoring a team. Last year we paddled under McLane Company, this year the name, Draggin’ You Down, was cleverly thought up by our HR manager. We are comprised of ten employees and 13 of our friends and family members. Seven of the 23 paddlers are returning for the second time and we plan on draggin’ our competitors down!: --Grace M. Ekeroma

Dragon Brew: The team consists of MillerCoors employees from the Milwaukee and Chicago offices, and is sponsored by the Asian Employee Affinity Network (AsEAN) at MillerCoors. The team name was chosen to represent the symbolic strength of the dragon and the rich heritage of MillerCoors in the beer industry. Dragon Brew is a new team at the Racine race and we hope to make this one of the traditions of the AsEAN group at MillerCoors. Rowers on the boat include the entire span of the organization from senior executives to summer interns. --Lynnette Le Clair

InSink or Swim and Slippery When Wet: InSinkErator sponsors two dragon boat teams: “InSink or Swim” and “Slippery When Wet.” Both names were picked by team members. The “factory” team (Slippery When Wet) has one less year in the competition than the “office” team (InSink or Swim). Each year, there is great rivalry between the two teams. One year the “office” team won, and the next year the “factory” team won. This year the “office” team is due! Both teams are made up of employees, friends, and family members. May the most “in-sync” team win! --Lorrie Emmons

J. C. Jammers: "Sponsor of this team is J.C. Mufflers and Brakes of Racine, an auto repair business, 'Much More than a muffler shop.' Locally owned and operated for 27 years. This is our third year of racing. All members of this team are competive or they would not be doing it. We come from all types of backgrounds and originally wanted to do this as a company to get everyone working for something fun, and actually shut the shop down for the day, However, no one from the shop felt they were physically fit enough to do this (too bad for them), so our team consists of friends and neighbors. Each year about a third of the people are new. We have friends and family members on this boat; by the time of the race we are all family." --Kristine Carlson

Johnson Bank Vikings: Johnson Bank has been a sponsor of a team since the first race, and it has always been named the Vikings. Our team is made up of employees, spouses and friends. We like the camaraderie of the event. --Tanya

Kenosha West Rowtarians: "We are the Kenosha West Rowtarians and are sponsored by and represent the Kenosha Rotary West, a hard working group of folks who raise monies for local charities. We started out paddling for the festival about five years ago because Kenosha Rotary West wanted to do something nice for the Racine Rotary folks, to build a better community connection and awareness to Rotary kinship. Our paddlers include massage therapists, firemen, sheriffs, hair stylists, a photographer, physical therapists, politicians and business people who love to come together for paddling for fun. We are the Happy Team and we demonstrate being good to each other." --Pam DeGrace

Pale Ale Paddlers: "It's a pirate's life for the Pale Ale Paddlers who have been taking to the high seas as a team for five years. Most of our team belong to the "Belle City Homebrewers and Vintners," our sponsor, and their families. These are people you want to know as they are folks who make their own beer, mead and wine. Also, many of our team members work for the un-official co-sponsor "Seams Unlimited" making fine costumes. It turns out that this is a marriage made in heaven for the self-styled pirates. All other teams: Beware! We take no prisoners."

People Powered Propulsion: "We are People Powered Propulsion sponsored by Twin Disc, Inc., the leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of power transmission equipment. We have participated in the Dragon Boat races since 2004 and have finished 1st in our class every year. Our team is comprised of employees, family members and friends. Our favorite part of the competition is being able to spend time together outside of work and hanging out together between races. We have several members of the original team from 2004 on our team again this year." --Eve Boehme

Pink Paddling Power: "Pink Paddling Power is the only all-woman team in the competition; we are a group of breast cancer survivors sponsored by Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-All Saints. Our youngest paddler is in her 40s, our oldest paddler is 60+. Some team members are in treatment now, during the season. This is our 4th year competing in the Great Midwest Dragon Boat Festival. We have also competed in Oshkosh and in two Canadian festivals. We will be competing in London, Ontario, in August. Our name indicates not only our survivorship, but also our mission: to enhance friendships while paddling dragon boats. Our logo was designed by a team member; the with pink ribbons wrapping a dragon boat paddle. We are not only a dragon boat team, but also an activity-based support group for breast cancer survivors. We enjoy the competition of the races, but the camaraderie of our team is also important to each of us. We welcome any survivors who might be interested in joining us. Paddles UP!" --Lee Nehmer

Pirates of the Cari-bean Counters: "Pirates of the Cari-bean Counters is a team sponsored by Clifton Gunderson LLP, and comprised of employees, family members and friends. Clifton Gunderson is one of the nation's largest public accounting and consulting firms. As most of the team is accountants, incorporating bean counters into the name was appropriate. This is the third year for the Pirates of the Cari-bean Counters and they were even lucky enough their first year paddling to make it to the finals." --Cortnie Pfarr

Red Hot Rebels: The Red Hot Rebels are representing Racine Horlick High School and the Student Council members. Their sponsor, Frank Sterbin, CPA., is a proud parent of Horlick High School graduates. The Student Council is an active group of students who promote school spirit by organizing Homecoming, the Bonfire, Winter Formal, and Prom. They also sponsor the Horlick High School Holiday Fair in November which was voted the Best Holiday Fair in Racine in 2008. Here they are, The Red Hot Rebels!

Scrubbing Bubbles Paddlers: We chose the name to represent one of the products that S.C. Johnson, our sponsor, produces. This is the 5th year we are participating. The team is made up of employees from our BPT (Business Process and Technology) department. --Mark Mathwig

Smilemakers: The Smilemaker team is sponsored by Racine Dental Group S.C., celebrating 40 years of dental service. This is the team's 2nd year in competition. Smilemakers are comprised of employees, family members and even patients. They come together to make new friends, renew acquaintances, have fun in the sun and paddle like crazy toward the finish line. -- Jenny Quizon

Team RFD: The Team RFD name was picked because it describes who we are: the Racine Fire Department. The “Yoc Strap” is our event sponsor; it is a firefighter drag-rescue device that fits in the back of the firefighter’s turnout gear. In the event of a downed firefighter, this device will assist with dragging that firefighter to safety. This is our fourth year competing. We are a mixture of employees, family and friends. Scott Yocco, who is recently retired from the Racine Fire Department, is the owner and inventor of the “Yoc Strap.” --Angela

UW-Parkside Paddlers: "We tried a funny name and but it was too lengthy and hard to explain so we reverted to something simple. Our sponsor is the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, a proud member of the University of Wisconsin System for 40 years. We have been paddling in the festival since the first year. We are a mixture of employees, students, family, friends and new friends we have met just by talking about dragon boating while doing business." --Dawne Bogardus

Wellness Warriors: Our team is called The Wellness Warriors from Wheaton Franciscan healthcare/ Allsiants. The team, started about six years ago, consists of Cardiac Rehabilitation staff and associates of the hospital, and family and friends. The team is driven off the fun and the challenge of the race and the camaraderie of the event itself. --Moses Stevenson


  1. What Happened to Flynnigan's Wake? (D.P. Wigley)

    Are you sure you have the correct number of teams?

  2. Not really... these are all the team descriptions we received. We'll see if there are more in the morning.

  3. Pete,
    The coolest team name has to go to "Death Rowers" - inmate themed shirts, ball and chain, etc. - it's from a downtown group

  4. I am quite surprised that the City of Racine would be sponsored by a tavern owner/establishment. I am also quite surprised that the Chief who is a devout Christian would participate in an alcohol sponsored boat. Something doesn't seem right with this seeing how a city worker riding his motorcycle on Marquette St. a few years back was nearly killed by a drunk driver going the wrong way on a one-way street. Just my opinion.

  5. While I find it very sad that someone was killed by a drunk driver, please don't forget that some people actually drink responsibly. It is unfair to penalize the chief because of someone elses lapse of judgment.

  6. I saw the Draggin Dragons practice and they are impressive.

  7. Anon 10:07 AM, I bet you are surprised by a lot of things. You certainly do not know what you are talking about.

  8. I can see you guys are too stupid to understand my point, so I will stop. I never said anyone got killed, and I also know that the Chief isn't real keen on drinking alcohol, period. What's so hard to understand? Let me guess, a 5th grade education? 6th grade perhaps??

  9. Anonymous 10:07 AM and 5:52 PM - Such harsh words. Shame on you. The Chief is a regular joe who happens to believe in God. Calling people stupid isn't right. Time to get your prescription filled.

  10. "Chief who is a devout Christian" - Religious radical is more like it! Based on the unethical way he runs the police department I hardly consider him to be a Christian man.

  11. Angle Fish go for a three peat!

  12. Sorry s/b Angel Fish