Portland, OR. An ancient Chinese Eye Dotting ceremony called, “The Awakening of The Dragons,” drew hundreds of people to the RiverPlace Marina on the banks of the Willamette River. This year the Grand Ronde Tribe joined local dignitaries painting red dots on the eyes of the dragon boats to officially “wake” them up and kick-off the Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race season.

Buddhists from the Hui Lin Temple lead this centuries old Chinese ceremony at the April 1st event.

Grand Ronde Canoe Family brought their drumming to the celebration. The organization is made up of community members of the Grand Ronde Tribe.

Activities also included Lion Dancing by the C.C.B.A.

The event culminated with a parade of dragon boats and the Portland Fireboat spraying the traditional water cannon salute.

Race History

1989 was the first year of the Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race. In that year, there were 31 teams registered. In 1991, the event had grown to 60 teams competing. Currently there are approximately 70-90 teams competing annually. The PKSCA owns eight Taiwan-style dragon boats; each boat accommodates 20 paddlers, 1 tiller, 1 caller, and 1 flag catcher required for each race heat.

The Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race is unique in that local teams have a 10-week practice season in preparation for the June race weekend. This 10-week practice season has contributed greatly to the growth of this sport in the Pacific Northwest. This race is also unique in that each team’s flag catcher is required to pull the flag from a buoy in that team’s lane which is what signals that the team has finished the race heat.

About CTGR

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (CTGR) is a sovereign tribal nation comprised of over 27 Tribes and Bands of native people, whose homelands are focused in Western Oregon. These lands include the area from the north shore of the Columbia River into Northern California and from the Crest of the Cascade Mountains to the Oregon Coast. The Grand Ronde Indian Reservation was created by Executive Order in 1857 in partial fulfillment of seven treaties negotiated and ratified between the US government and Native people. The Tribe’s Reservation, Government offices, and Spirit Mountain Casino are located 60 minutes south of Portland, Oregon.


Portland-Kaohsiung Sister City Association promotes people to people exchanges of educational, artistic, and cultural activities. PKSCA maintains several programs that focus on and support our mission. These include the annual Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Race, participation in the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade, and Starlight Parade, annual good will delegation exchanges between Portland and Kaohsiung, and support of Portland Chinese organizations and programs.