The MiraBay Dragon Boat Team practices for the first annual Dragon Boat Festival scheduled for Saturday, May 19 at 9 a.m. in the MiraBay Lagoon.

By Hunter Taylor

MiraBay by Newland Communities is a 750-acre waterfront residential community in Apollo Beach. Utilizing the scenic waters of the MiraBay lagoon, the community will host its inaugural MiraBay Dragon Boat Festival. On Saturday, May 19, at 9 a.m., Tampa paddlers, boat aficionados and residents alike are invited to participate in this increasingly popular sport or watch the day’s festivities.

“With this event, we want to celebrate everything the waters of MiraBay and Tampa Bay have to offer,” said Rick Harcrow, senior vice president of operations for Newland Communities. “This Dragon Boat Festival is the start of what we hope to be a long-standing, annual event.”

Nearly 20 customized vessels, each manned by a crew of 20 paddlers, will race through the water as drummers keep their team’s rowing in rhythm. Three heats of 400 meters will challenge the teams and the festival will end with a 2,000-meter finale.

The MiraBay Dragon Boat Club, composed of MiraBay residents and staff, will represent the community as its official crew. To prepare, the team has been out on the water for practice three times a week.

“Other teams are traveling from across the region to compete,” said Mike Kerkmann, race coordinator for the festival and president of the Pan Am Dragon Boat Association. “One of the big draws is the opportunity to race through MiraBay’s beautiful lagoon.”

Admission to the event is free.  Commemorative T-shirts will be available for cash purchase. In the shade of the spectator tent, onlookers can watch races unfold while enjoying food, beverages and live music. A bounce house will also be available for young children.

Registration for dragon boat crews is still open and general admission to watch the event is free. Food and drink will be available for cash purchase. All teams are encouraged to sign up for the friendly competition at Pan Am’s Website. For more information, call 645-1000 or e-mail

MiraBay was honored by the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission for having the Tampa Bay area’s best master-planned community design in 2002, and its homebuilders have also won national design awards. For more information on MiraBay, visit or on Newland Communities, visit

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