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Enter the Dragon … Boat Festival That Is

Hill staffers and alumni went to the river to row their dragons. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)
Hill staffers and alumni went to the river to row their dragons. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Politics may stop at the water’s edge, but competition among Capitol Hill staffers and alumni only intensified at the recent DC Dragon Boat Festival, with teams looking for bragging rights among their colleagues. As long as it wasn’t too early.  

“First of all, I’ve never been up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday in my life,” said Will Adams, who recently left his job as chief of staff for Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and was at the Thompson Boat Center bright and early on May 16 to row for glory on the Kanbay! team. For Adams and his other dragon boat teammates, though, it was a small price to pay to compete against the other Hill/alumni team, the Hill Runners. “The most important thing is, we’re not competing against these other groups,” Adams said, adding that the priority for Kanbay! was to beat the Hill Runners in the 250 meter heats. “We’re all friendly,” he added.  

Perhaps that was for the best. The Yushan team, made up primarily of Taiwanese military types, arrived ready for business. “They have staff uniforms, and they’re ripped. And they’re doing exercises, calisthenics,” Adams said of Yushan.  

More than 50 teams of 20 boat rowers descended on the annual event on May 16 and 17. The festival, sponsored by the Chinese Women’s League, has been a fixture of the Chinese cultural scene for 14 years now. Lyushun Shen, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, marveled at how much the festival has grown since its inception. “The first time, we had not so many teams. Now, there’s a wide range of teams and activities,” he said.  

And the healthy competition among Hill types ended well. As the May 16 activities headed into the afternoon, Kanbay! and Hill Runners, facing a dropoff in team members who had to bail, joined forces. “It was purely for fun since the rule required … original team members’ participation to qualify for competition. Nonetheless, they all had a great time,” a TECRO staffer shared.  

Correction 8:02 p.m. A previous version of this article misstated which team Adams rowed for.  

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