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The dragon returns to Lake Orion



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June 29, 2011 - It's that time of year again.

The buzz is beginning for the third annual Dragon on the Lake Festival. Bringing in old favorites and new additions, Orion Art Center Director Reggie Harrison believes this year will be the biggest and best the event has ever experienced.

"We went from 3,500 the first year, then in year two there was 10,000 people, so I'm guessing it will be bigger and better than last year," said Harrison. "It's fun to watch the buzz start up and the community get excited about something.

"There will be everything we had last year but stepped up."

The event begins on August 26 with the lighted boat parade, led by a fire-breathing dragon boat. The event, which starts at dusk, will take advantage of the low light to stand out on the lake, while the Lake Orion Boat Club will hold an "afterglow" party at the organizations building. Harrison said while the event is not exclusive, those wishing to attend must have access to a boat.

August 27 is when the main festival begins, starting at 11 a.m. As opposed to last year, different age group accessible activities will be split between the three village parks, with Children's Park featuring more senior focused events including live music from the Rusty Wright Band and the George Brothers. Meanwhile, Meek's Park will feature kid friendly activities like "inflatables," obstacle courses, kids games, "make'n'take" crafts, platerworks, and event a stage for kid friendly live music and displays.

Green's Park will serve as the staging ground for the dragon boat races, which will only be practicing on August 27 for the race on the final day of the festival. Closer to the Orion Art Center itself will be the teen area, which is new to the festival. The area showcases BMX and skateboarding demonstrations, and a special teen concert on August 27 only.

Harrison called this year's Dragon on the Lake "intergenerational."

"We're going to bring back everything that made the event great last year, and add even more," said Harrison. "The event is definitely for all ages, it's certainly growing, and I think it will be something that will continue to draw attention.

"There is a lot going into this, there are a lot of dedicated people helping make this happen. It's for the community, by the community."

The final day will consist of the same as August 27, yet add the dragon boat races, baby dragon boat races (essentially rubber duck races in Paint Creek), and closing ceremonies.

The Dragon on the Lake Ceremony began in 2009 when the Orion Art Center celebrated its thirtieth anniversary.

"We knew we wanted to do something really special for our anniversary, and at a conference for the Michigan Festivals and Events Association, they gave us the guidelines for what became Dragon on the Lake," said Harrison. "They told us to do something unique, call it something related to our town, and even with those instructions it tok us months to even come up with the name, but once we said 'Dragon on the Lake,' we knew it was set in stone."

The dragon boat event is still taking applications at $45 a person with teams of 21. Part of the proceeds from the dragon boat racers go towards the Great Lakes Cancer Institute.

Food venders at the event include Poppyseed of Lake Orion, G's Pizza and Culvers of Orion Township, and Italia Gardens and Victoria's of Oxford.

Sponsors for the event are Great Lakes Cancer Institute, Waste Management,

Home Depot, American Legion #233, PNC, Crittenton Hospital, Lake Orion DDA, Oxford Bank, SpringHIll Suites, Kiwanis Club of Oxford/Orion, Golling Buick, GMC, Oakland County Parks, Winfire Companies, Oakland Press, Lake Orion Review, The School for Mind and Body, and in partnership with Lake Orion Community Schools.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available at (248) 693-4986.

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