The Halloween Howl is the last dragon boat event of the year in the Bay Area. The event is organized and hosted by our friend and neighbor the Oakland Renegades and occurs on the Sunday closest to Halloween. After the race there is a community potluck at the Lake Merritt Boating Center – the same venue that hosted the Nor Cal in September.
As you might recall from an earlier post, in the prior year the Halloween race was called off (at least by the Alameda DragonFlyers) due to heavy rain. This year it was a cool morning, but not too cold to race. The Renegades were serving hot beverages, and I had my swim parka, so I was there for the duration.
The Halloween Howl is a costume-optional event for ADF. The theme was ‘super heroes’, but there were no requirements. Many of us opted for Wonder Woman. Since the movie had just come out in the fall, costumes were plentiful, and they didn’t interfere with paddling. Nancy opted for a scary clown, which was, well, really creepy. Dick came as a pirate, I’m guessing because he has a really boffo pirate coat and hat.
The DragonFlyers have over time developed some expertise at paddling backwards. Our boats are moored on the shore side of a long dock that accommodates larger boats on the estuary side. As a result, we start every practice with a long backpaddle to clear the dock. It was a race that was made for us.
I drummed the backpaddle race, but since everyone was facing backwards and the strokers were at the back-now-front of the boat, I was kind of useless, but I did my best. And the good news is that we took first place! And, I soon learned, unlike in Victoria, the Renegades provided medals. (If I had known that there were medals at stake at the Howl, I might have bee inclined to endure the rain a while longer.)
After the race was the potluck. I approach potlucks with caution since I am gluten-free. So I had packed a lunch, and brought along a bottle of wine for good measure at Dick’s suggestion. Turned out the Renegades were raising money by selling wine, so we had to be stealthy about my contribution. Over lunch I found out from Lisa Marie that I was entitled to a medal from the Nor Cal (see previous post), which warmed my cockles almost as much as the wine.
Then there was the medal ceremony on the boating center patio. I finished the season with three medals to my name. I would call that a good year.