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The Not-So Mythical Dragon of Oriental

He emerges from his lair one day a year to wreak havoc on the tiny fishing village of Oriental, North Carolina. Anyone within a mile of the waterfront can probably hear the raucous crowd that follows his every move. Its no wonder he comes out so rarely-- beating pots and pans, noise makers, firecrackers and anything else that will create a racket the cacophony reaches a crescendo that drives him back into hiding. THE Dragon will not show himself for another year.

Legend has it that the Dragon was first sighted back in 1962. That was when the old Tumble Inn was still standing on the waterfront and was also known as the Windborne house. Professor Joe Cox's imagination saw the Dragon in a pile of white cardboard he had brought to the Windborne's and it took form with the help of some old blankets and tin cans. The Dragon made his debut by marching around the streets and bothering dogs while delighting neighbors and then made an appearance at the Rotary Club's New Years Eve Dance.

The dragon returned every year for the next ten years when suddenly he was reported missing. Once again Joe Cox stepped in and "found" a new dragon with the help of Betsy Cox and Charlie Kahn. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes the new Dragon took to the streets without missing a beat. He has been content to limit his forays to New Years Eve when he makes two brief appearances. He comes out for a run at 8:00 PM and then again at 11:00 PM. He once marched in the Fourth of July parade but it was rumored that he didn't enjoy sharing a parade and hasn't done it since.

"The thing I love best is seeing the children grow up under the dragon" says Grace Evans. "Many of their parents were under that dragon once upon a time," she adds. Grace has become the caretaker of the Dragon. She makes sure that he is properly spruced up and looking smart for the annual appearance.

Since the first dragon made his appearance a new smaller dragon has shown up year round on the duck pond. It is suspected that the two are related but this has not been confirmed. Apparently the youthful dragon has not developed the reclusive habits of its older brethren and baths in view of anyone interested in looking.

Most people in Oriental will tell you there is only one way to start the New Year-- with THE Dragon. Check it out, you'll be glad you did.

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