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Dragon Boat Races, 5K Make for Busy Weekend in Chinatown

By Casey Cora | July 12, 2013 8:02am
 Saturday events will draw thousands to the Chinatown neighborhood.
Chinatown Events
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CHINATOWN — Two of the neighborhood's showcase events fall squarely on the same day and roughly the same time, likely leading to traffic and parking problems for residents and visitors alike.

The 12th annual Chinatown 5K begins Saturday with warm-ups at 7 a.m. and a traditional Chinese Lion Dance at 7:45 a.m.

Then, Gov. Pat Quinn will bang a gong at 8 a.m. Saturday, prompting an estimated 1,000 runners to wind their way through a course that begins on Archer Avenue just west of Wentworth, then takes runners southbound on Wentworth to 34th Street and back to the starting line.

The race should wrap up in an hour with an award ceremony and raffle in which all participants have a chance to win prizes like an iPad Mini, whole roasted pigs and gift certificates to local businesses. See the race's official Facebook page for details.

"Anybody who finishes the race will be eligible for the raffle. Sometimes speed is not everything," race organizer Anita Luk said.

A youth run is scheduled for 9 a.m., but it takes place along Archer Avenue, not Wentworth.

Just a few blocks northwest at Ping Tom Memorial Park, the 13th annual Dragon Boat Race for Literacy kicks off at 9 a.m.

That event is expected to draw thousands of spectators and competitors to the park, adjacent to the South Branch of the Chicago River and home to a brand new, locally-designed boathouse.

Each ornately decorated boat requires a minimum of 16 people and a maximum of 20. Teams consist of paddlers, a steersman or "sweep," a flag puller, and a drummer whose steady drumbeat keeps paddlers in sync.

Twenty-five teams — a mix of corporations, universities and small businesses — have registered for the race.

Chinatown Chamber of Commerce executive director Yin Kean said this year's races will feature food trucks, giveaways and a new kids area with a bounce house, bean bag toss and more. Also new is a mobile coupon program in which race watchers can text a special number to receive discounts at participating local businesses.

"When you text you get the promotion and you can take it to the store.  Just click [your phone] to redeem the coupon," she said.

The races last until 5 p.m.

Also on Saturday, the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago hosts its first-ever outdoor concert with the "Summer Fun in the Sun" performance at Chinatown Square, featuring traditional Chinese string, woodwind and percussion instruments. Admission is $12 for the general public and $8 for museum members, senior citizens and students.

It's part of the museum's "Different Sound of Music" concert series, which brings performers and audiences together through concerts and workshops.

Organizers for all of the events are encouraging visitors to use public transportation, including the Archer Avenue and Wentworth Avenue CTA buses. Another option from downtown is the free "R22" express shuttle from the CTA Roosevelt station, which is running because of the ongoing Red Line shutdown. The shuttle boards at State Street and Roosevelt Road.

Other transportation alternatives include the Chicago Water Taxi and the city's new Divvy bike share program, which has a docking station just east of the neighborhood at Cermak Road and Wabash Avenue.