The 2011 Dragon Boat Festival is history. It was a huge event, with lots of people, vendors, music and, of course those impressive dragon boats coursing through the Grand Marais harbor. WTIP Daybreak co-host Jay Andersen was there and it was a new, but also familiar experience.
"I admit I didn't exactly know what to expect. I hadn’t been involved in the past. And that just goes to show it’s never too late to have your eyes opened.
"We spoke with many dedicated, hard working and enthusiastic people involved with the activity, and that was gratifying -- as it always is when you experience a community coming together for a good time.
"What I saw, however were families together. Little kids played in the water. Dads and moms walked their dogs with tykes running ahead or behind them. Old men struggled with their walkers as they made their way to the shore over unforgiving beach rock. A son pushed his mother in a wheelchair over the sand. I saw teenies throwing out soap bubbles over the water. Balloons and colored T-shirts soaked in sweat and paddle spray.
"And those 60 paddles flashing in the sun, synchronized and attached to bending, straining bodies. The sound of the drum. The steerer’s urgent call.
"The young Asian dancers with their green and yellow costumes, skirts held to their knees wading in the unfamiliar water. And later dancing in precision for a cheering, clapping audience whose understanding of the Hmong culture was probably limited, but none the less welcoming, appreciated and most of all enjoyed.
"Against this visual background I heard in the distance the din and dun of Washington politics. Our elected representatives fought for what they said was in our best interests, but what we know to be only in theirs. The debt ceiling sky was falling and no one seemed to be able to catch it – at least not by holding on to the bucket together.
"That was what I heard in the distance. What I saw on a sunny -- sometimes stormy, later sunny -- Saturday, July by the shores of Lake Superior in the Grand Marais Harbor – what I saw, was America."