Celtic Fest Vancouver – St. Patrick's Day parade:
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat floats in a sea of Green
Gung Haggis Fat Choy paddle gang posing for the The Province newspaper
photographer (that's why the paddlers are facing the back of the
boat!): Todd Wong, Dave Samis, Da Ming Zhao, Aefa Mulholland and Ann
McQueen- photo Deb Martin
Dragon boat paddlers carried green paddles, wore green flower leis and
green mardi gras beads, as the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat parade
float “paddled” by the crowds on Granville St. for the 3rd annual
Vancouver St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Team veteran Dave Samis – photo Deb Martin
This multicultural dragon boat parade entry is always a
crowd favorite, as the crowd applauded for drum solos, and paddling
counts. This year there were no celebrity or honourary
drummers… Todd Wong, Da Ming Zhao and Aefa took turns behind the
drum, providing rhythm for “paddling”. Aefa and Daming,
enjoyed playing with our large yellow Chinese dragon puppet – almost as
much as children in the crowd did when they exclaimed “Dragon!”
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy banner, with mini dragons on the hood! – photo Deb Martin
Small toy stuffed dragons rode on the hood of the towing
vehicle, a blue Chevrolet Suburban loaned by paddler friend Susan
Hyde. A red dragon and a green dragon each got a free ride, with
their tails tucked under the windshield wipers.
Todd Wong aka “Toddy O'Wong” and Da Ming Zhao – photo Deb Martin
Gung Haggis Fat Choy creator Todd Wong (5th generation
Chinese-Canadian), shares a moment with paddler Da Ming Zhao (born in
China), who explained that wearing something green on your head in
China, means that you did something bad (like have an affair). Todd is wearing Green Gung Haggis dragon boat t-shirt with ancient
Fraser kilt, while Daming wears red (Chinese good luck colour) Gung Haggis dragon boat
t-shirt. Todd also walked along beside and around the dragon
boat, wearing a large Chinese Lion Head mask, often twirling his green
paddle like a baton or a Chinese kung fu staff. It was Aefa's
first time in a St. Patrick's Day parade, and she had been born in
Glasgow, and lived in Dublin for 12 years, and here she was wearing a
small Chinese lion head mask, and sitting in a dragon boat.
Da Ming and Dave. – photo Deb Martin
Dave Samis, had steered the Taiwanese dragon boats for the Gung Haggis
Fat Choy team in the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat
Races, held on Labour Day weekend, but this was the first time steering
the boat down Granville St. in a parade.
Team drummer, Deb Martin, sat behind the steering wheel of the towing
vehicle, providing a steady pace, while fending off proposals from male
parade watchers who read the “Kiss Me, I'm Irish” signs posted on the
doors of the Suburban.
As the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat float passed the VIP
grandstands, City Councillors Suzanne Anton and Peter Ladner, who have
both attended past Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year
Dinners, waved enthusiastically. Councillor Ladner probably
shocked the voting population with his dyed Green hair.
Todd Wong interviewed by Kent Spencer posing with another kilted parade participant – photo Deb Martin
Province newspaper reporter, Kent Spencer, approached “Toddy O'Wong” at
the parade's finish for an interview which addressed multiculturalism,
and how a dragon boat float was appropriate for a St. Patrick's Day
Rookie paddler Aefa Mulholland, now “Gung Haggisized”! – photo Deb Martin
Spencer talked to Aefa Mulholland, who recieved her first paddling
lesson during the parade route, and looks forward to a season of dragon
boating with the team. Aefa was born in Glasgow Scotland, but
spent 12 years living in Dublin.
Da Ming tries his hands at drumming – photo Deb Martin
Spencer also interviewed team paddler Da Ming Zhao who was born
in China. Daming had never been to a St. Patrick's Day Parade
before, and stated how much he had learned about Canadian culture by
joining the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.