The Gung Haggis Fat Choy “float” rolled magnificiently down Granville St. Cheers would go up as the crowd would see the big Dragon Head coming towards them. A Taiwan dragon boat was pulled on a trailer, as muscians sat in the boat and played, and as paddlers “paddled” the boat along. People read the banners on the side of the boat trailer and exclaimed “Gung Haggis Fat Choy“as they tried the words out over their tongues.
I drove the rental pick-up truck, and I could hear and feel the crowd's reaction as we approached each crowd sections. “Dragon Boat!” or “Taiwan Dragon Boat!” they would call out to their friends and family, to be the first to identify the float.
“One of the best floats,” said Celtic Fest organizer and founder, Warren Purchase, when he found out I was the organizer of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat float.
Our drummer/paddler Tracy Wong would wave the DBA flag. Joe McDonald played his bagpipes and Andrew Kim played his electric guitar as the featured musical group Brave Waves. Highland dancers in sailors outfits and traditional Scottish costumes paddled from the back of the boat, There was great joy and excitement from the dancing students of Angus Mackenzie. My dragon head puppet was also passed from person to person, as it listed parade participant to all the dragon boat races and festivals it has attended including Portland, Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver.
Then after 3 blocks – the trailer tire went flat.
We sent somebody to London Drugs to find tire inflator/sealer but to no avail. The boat wobbled from side to side. as it bounced on the one remaining tire, as the right tire floppily ran on the deflated rubber.
We rolled on up to Georgia St. The older dancers and some of the paddlers dismounted from the boat to walk beside the boat with their paddles. Our dragon boat paddlers all wore our tartan sashes that we had created as a team uniform for the dragon boat races. Even guitarist Andrew Kim was wearing one along with his “bear hat” from China that he got from the Brave Waves musical tour in Beijing last October.
Some friends of my brother recognized the Gung Haggis name and called out to me in the truck cab. I called John over and gave him two plastic St. Paddy's Day hats. “Choice! and Thanks!” he excalimed.
And then we came to the end of the line… I informed the parade officials that we had a flat tire, and they directed me to the part of Granville St. North of Pender, where the trailer sat for a bit before moving across to Hastings St. to avoid the buses.
It took 2 hours to get the tire fixed, as BCAA and Drake Towing were unable to help. Finally Fountain Tire came out with replacement tires and a hydraulic jack.
All in all – it is worth putting the dragon boat as a float entry. I look forward to organizing more float entries for future parades such as the Chinatown New Year parade.