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by Serena Gordon


If you're looking for an activity that you'll enjoy as much as your kids will, head to the 9th annual Norwalk Harbor SPLASH! on Sunday, June 1. From 11am to 5pm, historic South Norwalk (SoNo) will be transformed into a lively festival featuring standard fare like arts & crafts and a variety of musical performers, plus more unusual offerings, such as a clam chowder cook-off and a dragon boat race. The fun kicks off with a colorful parade led by a giant dragon puppet, drummers and the teams for the dragon boat races, which start at 1pm in the Norwalk River between Tallmadge Brothers and the Stroffolino Bridge. Dragon boats are 39 feet long and weigh 800 pounds; they are decorated with traditional Chinese colors and symbols, and a carved dragon head and tail. It takes 16 to 18 paddlers to move the boat. The winning team will be invited to compete at the Eastern Regional Dragon Boat Federation's competition in September. Those willing to eat more than chicken nuggets can sample clam chowder from restaurants in SoNo, as local chefs vie for the SPLASH! Chowder Pot Trophy. Ballots for the cook-off cost $5 and will be on sale from 11am to 3pm in the lobby of the Crown SoNo Regent Theatre at 66 North Main Street. Tasting is from 12 to 4pm. Throughout the day, there will be multicultural music and dance performances, hands-on activities for youngsters, body art, marshal arts demonstrations, a celebrity dunking booth, environmental displays and wildlife demonstrations. Highlights include harbor cruises, lighthouse tours, crafts booths, life-size sea creature puzzles, temporary tattoos, miniature golf, touch tank, storytelling and poetry, and costumed characters. Restaurants and street vendors will offer kid-friendly food such as hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn and ice cream. The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk will be featuring their Robot Zoo exhibit, and the IMAX Theater will present Lewis and Clark hourly from 11am to 5pm. Portable bathrooms will be located midway down Washington Street as well as in the IMAX parking lot. The IMAX theater also has restroom facilities equipped with a baby changing station in the lobby. There are several ways to get to the event. If you drive, it's exit 14 off I-95 north, or take the Merritt Parkway to Rte. 7 South and then follow the signs to South Norwalk. You can also take MetroNorth to the South Norwalk station, and you can even come by boat because the Norwalk Visitor's Dock will be open. Once there, you can pick up a map to all of the activities at SPLASH! headquarters at 90 Washington Street, or you can print one out at http://norwalk.ws/splashfestival before you go. Most of the activities will take place either in the IMAX parking lot or on Washington Street between Main and Water Streets. Admission to the festivities is free, though there is a charge for some of the activities.


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