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A Dragon Rolls Through Oriental New Year's Eve
Neither rain nor pandemic can stop a Dragon
January 1, 2021

or over 50 years, a dragon (sometimes two) has made the run down Hodges Street on New Year’s Eve. In a year marked by a pandemic and gathering restrictions, the Dragon and team adapted.

If Oriental couldn’t visit the Dragon on Hodges, then the Dragon would visit Oriental. But that’s a long way to walk.

A large colorful parade dragon, lit from within by lights, shows it's teeth to the camera.
The Dragon, lit from within. (Bob Parker photo)

The Dragon and Team needed a ride. Dragon Master Jim Edwards put out a call for a trailer. The Spruills answered, lending a 24’ trailer for Dragon transport.

The Dragon Run became the Dragon Roll. TownDock.net mapped out the route with approximate times.

A map of Oriental showing in blue the route of the dragon through the streets. Along the route are time stamps of 10 minute increments.
Where and when the Dragon could be expected to appear.

The forecast was for rain. But the Dragon team was determined to deliver. They were committed, rain or not. After 35 minute weather delay, the Dragon began its roll through town.

Several people stand under black umbrellas watching a dragon on a trailer pass by under a street lamp. A red umbrella is on the ground near the people.
Standing under umbrellas, a distanced group watches the Dragon pass near Lou Mac Park. (Andrea Bruce photo)

For an hour, Dragon and team rolled through the neighborhoods of Oriental, forgoing Broad Street for the more residential Midyette. The tour took the usual parade route by the waterfront, then made a visit to neighborhoods Whittaker Point and Dolphin Point.

Residents came out to their porches, driveways, and sidewalks banging pots and pans as the Dragon rolled by.

Close up of the dragon. Bright red mouth and bright green eyes shine in the darkness.Night time view of headlights and a Dragon head lit by lights peering over the truck's cabin.A yellow trailer carries the dragon away. The orange, red, and yellow body is followed by a purple wagging tail.
The Dragon passed through familiar stomping grounds: Hodges Street.
A little girl in a pink raincoat and unicorn backpack holds a clear umbrella. Her grandmother kneels next to her. It's raining and they're waving to a lighted dragon being towed down the street on a trailer.
Isabell Bohl, 6, and her grandmother Veronica McKay cheer the dragon on at Lou Mac Park. (Andrea Bruce photo)
Close up of the dragon head: bright green eyes, pink mouth, white horns with blue and yellow streamers wrapped in blue lights, and an orange body and gold and silver tassel beard.
A Dragon in profile. (Bob Parker photo)
At an intersection under a street light, a little girl in a raincoat stomps in a puddle. An older girl stands in the street, head back catching rain in her mouth. Her umbrella is in her hand, resting on the ground.
Haley Rice, 11, and Willa Bruce, 2, wait in the rain on Midyette Street. (Andrea Bruce photo)
Longtime resident and unofficial town historian Grace Evans wrote in about the event:
To the dragon master and crew, Laura Turgeon and cartoon, TownDock and minute to minute info, and for an almost 60 year Oriental tradition continuing, thank you.

The dragon, he or she, has never looked so bright and cheery and free of care. May 2021 be the same for us all.

Appreciatively, Grace.

Artist Laura Turgeon’s rendition of the Dragon Roll:

Drawing of a pickup truck with kids in the back, pulling a trailer with a colorful, lounging dragon waving a flag that reads Happy, Healthy, Peaceful 2021 to all.
One Happy New Year Dragon. (Laura Turgeon drawing)
Thanks go to the Dragon Team and others who made it happen. From Jim Edwards and Stephanie Carperos:
The Dragon Team is Scott Guess (head support), Cole Wise (the Dragon head). Ribs are: Caz Doyle, Amena and Aamir Matcheswala, Hanna Rogers, Nicole Edwards, Tristan Guess, Ari Paulik.

A group of people stand together against a wall, with their arms around each other.
The Dragon Team.
Tail and dragon costume design – Jen Rodriguez. Stephanie and Sammy Guess – pooper scooper car. Jim and Stephanie – dragon drivers and music. The Spruills – trailer. Bill Wichrowski – police escort.

Thanks to the town for showing up, the spontaneous parade of cars to help with the horns, and Keith and TownDock for map drawing and hour by hour communication.
Watch the Dragon roll down Hodges Street on New Year’s Eve 2020:

Posted Friday January 1, 2021 by Allison DeWeese

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