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Dragons May Be Coming to Norristown

The Philadelphia-area Dragon Boat Club is considering relocating to Riverfront Park.

Norristown is often complimented for it's riverfront real estate, but it's rare that the feature gets any real attention or use by most residents. Robin Parker would like to change that.

Parker, coach and organizer for the Philadelphia-area Dragon Boat Club, turned up at Tuesday night's municipal council meeting to discuss the possibility of bring the club to Norristown.

"It would be great for Norristown and our team," said Parker. "I think we could have a really good, positive effect on the community."

According to Parker, the club has been around for about 15 years. They were originally based in Philadelphia, near Boathouse Row, but a recent storm wiped out their seawall and forced all the area teams to relocate. Parker, who grew up in Norristown, wants to bring her club to Riverfront Park.

Parker admits that she was hesitant at first when Riverfront Park was mentioned as an option, but a site visit and some time with the neighbors changed her mind fast.

"I went in to the park and was pleasantly surprised," she said. "I got to meet the locals and we had a lot of fun."

Now, Parker says, she wants to introduce Norristown to dragon boating.

The club has two dragon boats, both about 45-feet long and has two competitive teams of different levels. Parker would want to invite locals to come learn about the sport and join in on some community projects and even have a dragon boat camp. She would love to get locals out on the water.

Before that can happen, Parker and the club need to sort out some paper work. The club needs a lease from the municipality to use the park, but an insurance quote of $5 million suggested by Norristown's broker was a bit out of the club's range. Guidelines created by US Rowing, the national governing body for the sport, call for $1-to-$2 million in insurance coverage. Parker noted that Philadelphia didn't require any liability insurance. Municipal Manager Dave Forrest agreed to take the US Rowing guidelines to the municipality's broker for consideration.

Once insurance is taken care of, the club would still need to find a home for the boats and a place for meetings. Parker feels that's something she can build at Riverfront Park.

"Dragon boating is the second biggest sport in the U.S.," said Parker. "There are competitions all over the world... I really would love to bring the teams to Norristown."

Learn more about the sport and about the Dragon Boat Club here.

Patsy Morningstar February 21, 2013 at 10:15 PM
I think this would be fantastic - I was there when Ms. Parker made her presentation to council and her enthusiasm is contagious. What a breath of fresh air this would be for Norristown!
John Kolb February 21, 2013 at 11:20 PM
How/when Did Dragon Boat racing become the second biggest sport in The US? Interesting prospect though.
James Myers (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 03:53 PM
I think Ms. Parker misspoke. It's generally referred to as the second most popular sport in the world (behind soccer). I should have caught that. Sorry for the confusion.
Melissa Krueger February 22, 2013 at 06:16 PM
I think this would be great for the community, it is a fun sport.
CryinSam Says February 22, 2013 at 09:34 PM
Let's do all we can to facilitate an easy transition from Philadelphia to Norristown for the Philadelphia Area Dragon Boat Club. The addition of such a club and activity will create a positive purpose for a greatly overlooked and underused resource in our community - the river. With an expert in the field leading the charge, this sport will attract a participatory and supportive audience while introducing outside communities to Norristown; adding to the culture, growing the economy, enhancing the riverfront and educating the community.
Flagtail February 22, 2013 at 11:27 PM
I love this idea for the riverfront! There is one major stumbling block, however. West Norriton Township owns Barbadoes Island, across from Riverfront Park. The WNT Board of Commissioners has been studying the prospect of siting its own sewage treatment plant on Barbadoes Island and/or at the Rittenhouse Pump Station (or other unnamed location) for several years now. What effects would a new sewer plant have on riverfront use along the Schuylkill River, at either location? The issue is flying almost completely under the radar screens of local residents. This is an issue of regional significance, yet West Norriton has not provided an open forum to allow township residents -- let alone the greater community -- to discuss its potential plans to construct its own plant(s).
jxjipper February 23, 2013 at 03:13 AM
This opens a whole new trade for our local thugs. They can now become privateers and rob the boaters on the high seas. "Arrgh Jimboy let's mug some boaters" Captain Crook Norristown 2014.
CryinSam Says February 23, 2013 at 12:29 PM
http://norristown.patch.com/articles/west-norriton-considering-its-own-sewage-treatment-plant
MK February 24, 2013 at 02:05 PM
I would love to see these boats in Norristown. Looking forward to hearing more about the plans, so I can get involved in making it happen.

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