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January 6, 2013
Two runnings of the dragon is the tradition here in Oriental on New Years. In the waning hours of 2012, spectators were treated not just to two dragon runs, but the sight of the town’s two dragons appearing at the same time.East meets .. east. Oriental’s New Year’s Dragon, at left, and at right the Chinese Dragon in their first meeting. It happened on Hodges Street, near the Town Dock, in the last half hour of 2012.Thar Be Two Dragons.
Oriental’s locally-crafted New Years Eve dragon – in several incarnations — has been running on Hodges Street at 8p and 11:30p on December 31 for more than 4 decades. This year, he had company for that second run.
At the 11:30 run, the large-headed New Years dragon was retracing its steps on Hodges and working its way back to its lair for another year, when the newer, more lithe and serpentine Chinese dragon appeared. The new arrival nuzzled and danced alongside the bigger dragon in front of The Bean and the Oriental Town Dock.Oriental’s traditional New Year’s Dragon.
Dancing with the bigger dragon at the 11:30p run wasn’t the only first for the new dragon; it was also its first appearance after dark, which had the effect of making it seem to float higher above its team of humans.The Chinese Dragon, in its first ever nighttime appearance, approached the Town Dock area of Hodges Street. Up above, on a mast, was the town’s other symbol, the Croaker, waiting for its drop at midnght.Turnout On Rise For Late Run and Croaker Drop
There was a healthy sized crowd, larger than the usual, to witness the meeting of the dragons on that late run. While the 11:30p crowd was larger this year, the 8p crowd size seemed to be somewhat down.Croaker, before it was lighted and ready to drop from a mast.
Shortly after the second run with the 2 dragons the evening was capped off by the Dropping of the Croaker. Around midnight (the crew is working on the timing) the 4 foot wide gussied-up plywood fish descended from the mast of Charlie Garrett’s sailboat and in to a dinghy in the water nearby.Duck Pond Lights Beckon 2013
One other addition to the festivities this year continued to glow long after the crowds dissipated, the dragons were tucked away and the croaker removed. Across Hodges Street on the Duck Pond, some 70 luminaries gently bobbed on the water’s surface, each of them alight.Before the dragon runs, luminaria appeared in the Duck Pond. About 70 square boxes, lit from within, floated on the water.
Douglass Wales and some friends who set them out, are talking about bringing the Duck Pond lights out for another event.New Dragon Keeps Appointment, Two Years Later
Oriental’s dragon fans may be hoping to see a repeat next year of the two-dragon appearance, as well.
That Oriental has a second dragon at all, is part of a village saga that makes it fitting that the Chinese dragon debuted at the 11:30 run this year.
It was in its way keeping an appointment made 2 years ago.The Chinese dragon making its nighttime debut at the 2012 Dragon run.
In December 2010, those in charge of the traditional dragon said that it would only run down Hodges Street at 8p. That prompted Oriental residents and businesses to pool their money and purchase that second dragon from China.
The idea was that this second dragon would carry on the 11:30p dragon run tradition. That, however, was thwarted when the dragon from China arrived didn’t arrive in time for the 2010 run. (The other dragon’s handlers relented in 2010 and Oriental’s New Year’s dragon has kept up the two-run tradition.)
The Chinese Dragon was delivered in early January 2011, and although that was a few days late for the New Year’s run, it did give rise to starting yet another dragon run tradition in Oriental. Reasoning that a Chinese dragon shouldn’t sit idle on the Chinese New Year — a few weeks in to the year — Oriental has run the Chinese dragon to mark the Asian New Year in the past two years.Seven Pages of Photos of the Dragons and Oriental’s New Years Eve Celebrations Just Ahead.Harriet Weaver (holding up the sign) welcomed the dragons with a sign she made in English and in Chinese characters. Her’s was one of the only posters this year; the ones that traditionally accompany the dragon were said to be in disrepair and had been donated to the Oriental History Museum. More signs will be welcomed in the next running.