By Kevin Shannahan
Natchitoches’ first Dragon Boat Race held on May 28, 2016 was a resounding success, filling the downtown riverbank with racing crews and their families. In addition to the local area crews, two teams came up from Ft Polk, Bayne-Jones Community Hospital and the 115th Combat Support Hospital. The “Swamp Medics” of the 115th were sponsored for the day by Bolton Realty, giving the soldiers and their families a taste of Natchitoches hospitality and a day of family fun. Bolton Realty’s sponsorship paid not just for the race entry fees, but also for treating them to lunch and providing an air conditioned place to get out of the heat and for parents to change diapers. There was no cost to the soldiers for anything.
The 115th Combat Support Hospital had just returned from a deployment to Iraq in January and the Dragon Boat Races provided an ideal opportunity for the soldiers and their families to have fun and bond togther.
Mrs. Janice Bolton, this year’s chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, stated that her sponsorship had three goals: first of all, to thank the troops and their families for their service and sacrifice; to support the NSU Foundation and Alumni Association, and “put my money where my mouth is as Chamber President” in facilitating more events introducing Fort Polk families to Natchitoches. This year’s Dragon Boat races succeeded on all three points.