Real Housewives have pearls, will paddle

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The Real Housewives of Cape May paddle in tiaras, pink gloves and feather boas at last year’s Dragon Boat Festival. The Real Housewives of Cape May paddle in tiaras, pink gloves and feather boas at last year’s Dragon Boat Festival.

After medaling at the inaugural Dragon Boat Festival wearing tiaras and pink boas, the Real Housewives of Cape May will up the ante this year by wearing pearls 

Pearls on and paddles up.

The Real Housewives of Cape May will be flaunting their own unique sense of style when they join more than 800 other paddlers in the Cape May Dragon Boat Festival Saturday, Sept. 28.

The festival doesn’t take itself too seriously. Last year the inaugural event saw teams of pirates, cats, and a paddler dressed as Michael Jackson from the 1983 “Thriller” music video.

The Real Housewives paddled in tiaras, hot pink gloves and feather boas. At their kickoff dinner the night before the festival, the women wore prom dresses.

This year the women’s group is “trying to add to the fabulousity of The Real Housewives of Cape May” while raising money for the Nature Center of Cape May, said team captain Darryl Waller.

“We are going to paddle in pearls,” she said.

The group, comprised mainly of women from the Corinthian Yacht Club, raised about $3,000 for the nature center last year. Their motto is “Paddlin’ Hard, Sippin’ Drinkies and Raisin’ Funds.”

The Real Housewives' motto is “Paddlin’ Hard, Sippin’ Drinkies and Raisin’ Funds.” The Real Housewives' motto is “Paddlin’ Hard, Sippin’ Drinkies and Raisin’ Funds.”

In addition to manning a dragon boat, the Real Housewives of Cape May will have a tent on the festival grounds throughout the day. Baked goods will be available for sale, and a silent auction will be held for an hors d’oeuvres party catered by the housewives on the day of the bidder’s choosing.

The auction was team’s main fundraiser last year, Waller said. Bidders thought hors d'oeuvres might just mean “cheese on crackers,” but when the party was held this summer, people realized the housewives meant business.

“We expect a bidding frenzy this year,” Waller said.

Waller said Real Housewives is one of the few all-women teams in the dragon boat festival. The team won a medal last year, she said.

There are 42 teams in this year’s race, with 21 paddlers to a boat. The event serves as a fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May. The entry fee is $1,000 per boat, and the teams can then raise more funds for their favorite charities.

The Nature Center of Cape May was an obvious choice for the women from the Corinthian Yacht Club, its neighbor to the east, Waller said. In addition to their proximity, there is a very close bond between the two organizations, she said.

“We have a lot of naturalists – birders – who love the nature center,” she said. “The center has had its hours reduced and had to reduce staff because of cutbacks. We thought it was a perfect opportunity to help out.”

The nature center announced its off-season closure last winter because of cutbacks made by the New Jersey Audubon Society. It reopened in April and will continue to host fall programming through October. For a full listing of events, visit njaudubon.org.

Nature center director Gretchen Whitman said the yacht club and the nature center “look out for each other.”

The organizations have worked together in the past to keep the harbor clean, and many of the yacht club’s members frequently visit the center, she said.

Whitman said the nature center is a perfect place to watch the dragon boat race. Spectators can use the three-story lookout tower on the nature center grounds or the indoor observation lounge to watch the race.

The nature center is holding an open house the day of the race and will have a coffee and tea station with baked goods. There will also be a yard sale, Whitman said. There is no admission fee to the nature center grounds, but donations are welcome, she said.

The race is a 250-meter straight course starting in the harbor off Delaware Avenue.

Dragon boats originated in southern China 2,000 years ago and were used in water sports, according to the chamber’s website. Villages would compete against each other in boats that were decorated with dragon heads and tails. It has since become an international sport.

The Cape May Dragon Boat Festival runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on the harbor at the nature center. There will also be dragon head eye-dotting and flower ceremonies, a karate performance by the Kum Sung School of Martial Arts, a beer garden, a food court and retail vendors.

Donation checks can be mailed to the New Jersey Audubon Nature Center of Cape May, Attn: Gretchen Whitman, 1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, NJ08204. On the memo line of the check write Real Housewives Dragon Boat.

To donate online see community.njaudubon.org and click the Donate tab at the top of the page. Choose “Click here to make an online donation” and select the Nature Center of Cape May in the pull-down bar, then the Add Donation button and type Real Housewives Dragon Boat in the comment box.

For more information call the nature center at 609-898-8848.


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