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Mayo discontinuing Big Blue Dragon Boat Festival following 2020 cancellation due to COVID-19
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Mayo discontinuing Big Blue Dragon Boat Festival following 2020 cancellation due to COVID-19

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After the COVID-19 related cancellation of the 2020 Big Blue Dragon Boat Festival, Mayo Clinic Health System and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse have decided to discontinue the event going forward.

Big Blue Dragon Boat Festival

The Big Blue Dragon Boat Festival participants race on the Black River in 2019.

The event, founded in 2013, has raised over $400,000 for the Center for Breast Care in La Crosse and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse, drawing as many as 1,100 paddlers and 2,500 spectators each year.

The 2020 event, scheduled for June 22, was cancelled in April, one month after the coronavirus pandemic hit the region. With COVID-19 cases increasing locally and nationally, Mayo has made the decision to discontinue the event now in an effort to be “good stewards of time and resources.”

“Even if some community events resume this summer, placing people side by side in boats where they will be physically exerting themselves and exhaling heavily is not safe. Drawing large crowds would also increase community risk of exposure,” says Teri Wildt, director of community engagement for Mayo Clinic Health System. In addition, as the event requires hundreds of staff and volunteer hours to plan and some contracts require prepayment, those funds would be lost should the 2021 event have been cancelled.

“This event has seen great success over the years, thanks to the many staff, volunteers and community partners who have given their time and energy to make it happen,” says Wildt. “We remain grateful for the tremendous support we’ve received in bringing awareness and funding to a cause that has touched many people.”

Mayo Clinic Health System will continue to staff the behavioral health specialist roles at two La Crosse locations of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse, and the Mayo Clinic Health System Center for Breast Care will also continue to provide a full array of services for patients.

“Even if some community events resume this summer, placing people side by side in boats where they will be physically exerting themselves and exhaling heavily is not safe. Drawing large crowds would also increase community risk of exposure.” Teri Wildt, director of community engagement for Mayo Clinic Health System

Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

"Even if some community events resume this summer, placing people side by side in boats where they will be physically exerting themselves and exhaling heavily is not safe. Drawing large crowds would also increase community risk of exposure."

Teri Wildt, director of community engagement for Mayo Clinic Health System

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