"On your mark, get set, row!"
That's exactly what participants in the annual Dragon on the Lake boat races will hear as they make their way across Lake Orion on Sunday morning.
Now in its third year, the dragon boat races are an exciting way for members of the community to get together with their friends, families and coworkers and form teams while they raise funds for various charitable organizations, and even sneak in a bit of exercise at the same time.
Teams of 20 paddlers and one drummer all join together in a 41-foot dragon boat, aiming to be the first team to cross the finish line.
20 teams will compete in the 2012 Dragon on the Lake, as they work to dethrone the 2011 winners, the Island Bombers.
Pat Parkin, 76, is a participant on the United Methodist Church team, the Masterful Methodists, and will be competing for her third time. Last year, her team came in fifth place out of 20 and had one boat competing, and this year, it hopes to add another.
"It's for a great cause - we get money pledged and it goes toward our Church's fund to help the needy," Parkin said. "It's great fun and it's good exercise, and it's just good."
Karin Spacil will also join her team, the McLaren Boat of Hope, as a rower on Sunday.
"Part of the reason why we decided last year to actually put a boat together is because it looked like a lot of fun and it was just a way to further contribute," Spacil said. "Most of the people on our team are repeats so we got a lot of practice in last year!"
Spacil notes that her team members each wear a different color shirt to represent the various types of cancer that exist.
"It's kind of fun to show our support for people who are going through cancer and cancer treatment, families of cancer patients and their caregivers - it's just a nice way to show that we are out there and we are supporting those people," Spacil said.
Proceeds from the McLaren Boat of Hope will go toward the McLaren Cancer Institute in Clarkston.
The dragon boat teams will have their only practice this Saturday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. where they will learn paddling techniques, directions and ways to navigate the water.
The 2012 Dragon on the Lake Dragon Boat Races will be held from 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26. For more information, visit www.dragononthelake.com.
Patch has a schedule of events for the whole Dragon on the Lake Festival, which includes art, music, food and an '80s retro party Saturday night.