Pensacola Dragon Boat Races get fired up for Gulf Coast Kid's House, Junior Achievement

By Phillip Makselan

By Phillip Makselan, a freelance writer for PNJ

With historical roots dating back more than 2,000 years, the Pensacola Dragon Boat Festival is celebrating its fifth year being hosted by the Northeast Pensacola Sertoma Club. The club works to give back to the community during various events throughout the year, with the Dragon Boat Festival on Sept. 8 benefiting Gulf Coast Kid’s House and Junior Achievement.

“Through the support of the club and our key sponsors such as Wind Creek Hotel and Casino of Atmore, the Pensacola Dragon Boat Festival is Pensacola’s number one team building event where a drummer and 20 of their closest team members paddle a 43-foot paddle boat 300 meters down Bayou Texar for bragging rights,” said Bryan Morelock, director of the festival.

The festival brings together the fabric of Pensacola’s corporate and nonprofit culture for a day of fun, according to Morelock. The names for the teams reflect that fun — The Studer Group becomes the Stud-Oars, App River becomes the snAPP Dragons and Landrum HR becomes the Landrum HR Slayers. 

In addition to watching up to 40 teams vie for top honors on the water, the festival will have activities for all ages to enjoy. There will be over 30 arts and crafts vendors and a kid’s area with a variety of activities, including a Ninja Warrior obstacle course.

“Over the years the festival has grown so much that we are able to educate more and more people about child abuse and its prevention in our community and, in turn, raise more funds to provide programs and services to our clients,” said Meghan Chapman, outreach and development director at Gulf Coast Kid’s House, a children’s advocacy center serving Escambia County.

“The team concept causes people who don’t know one another to interact,” said Ellen Kent, a volunteer and board member at Gulf Coast Kid’s House.

Beyond the team race, its an event for the whole family, she said. “It’s a pleasure to volunteer at such a fun day for the entire family while at the same time bringing awareness for Gulf Coast Kid’s House.”

While Gulf Coast Kid’s House has partnered with Sertoma on the event since the festival's inception, this year’s addition of Junior Achievement as a charity is exciting for everyone. Junior Achievement educates students in kindergarten through 12th grades about entrepreneurship, work place readiness and financial literacy using area professionals who volunteer their time.

“Junior Achievement is honored and very grateful to have become a Dragon Boat partner this year," said Ildi Hosman, president of Junior Achievement Northwest Florida. “The donation Junior Achievement receives from this event will help us to serve nearly 1,000 young people in Escambia County this school year, which equals approximately 25 percent of our annual service in the area.”

The Pensacola Dragon Boat Festival raised more than $40,000 last year and looks to top that with the upcoming races

About Wind Creek Hospitality

Wind Creek Hospitality is an authority of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Wind Creek Hospitality manages the Tribe’s gaming facilities including: Wind Creek Atmore, Wind Creek Wetumpka, Wind Creek Montgomery, Wa She Shu Casino in Nevada, Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino as well as racetracks in Alabama and Florida. 

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is the only federally recognized Indian Tribe in the state of Alabama, operating as a sovereign nation with its own system of government and bylaws. The Tribe operates a variety of economic enterprises, which employ hundreds of area residents. 

For more information, visit:

WCH Public Relations
(251) 446-4293

Phillip Makselan