Annual Long Beach boat race rooted in Chinese history

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Hundreds of paddlers participated in the 22nd Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival.

The two-day event featured traditional Chinese dances, art demonstrations and live music.

Teams from throughout California and out of state participated in the 500-meter race across Marine Stadium.

The waterway the dragon boats used was built for the rowing competition at the 1932 Olympics.

The 2,400-year-old sport is rooted in Chinese history. The festival celebrates the life of a Chinese poet and patriot who committed suicide.

People from his village rushed their fishing boats into the river in an attempt to save him. They beat drums and splashed water with paddles during the search. The act developed into the dragon boat race.

The Long Beach event has grown into one of the largest competitions in the state.