As the originator of the boat parade, I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it was for me to write this. Nevertheless, when you faithfully plan your July Fourth program around the Portage Lakes festivities, you deserve a right to be informed of any and all changes.

When I heard the heartbreaking news, lyrics of an old time song reminded me how quickly we could lose this annual summer event; one we’ve come to enjoy watching each year. You may recall those lyrics.  

“Goodbye Charlie! Sad to see you go. Goodbye Charlie! You’ve been good  to know . . .” Only in place of “Charlie,” use “boat parade.” And it could happen now. Here’s why.

From its peak years in the mid 1980s when it consistently attracted nearly 100 boats, participation has dropped dramatically. I have my suspicions as to why, but without doing an in-depth study, they will remain as such.

Some, however, say it’s because the event has rarely been promoted. They claim they never see any boat parade advertisements, only fireworks and sand castle events. I don‘t buy that. The same programs that promote the fireworks and sand castle contests, also promote the annual boat parades. I know. I read them each year. Others must be seeing and reading them, too.

This sad turn of events has hastened this column, even at this late date. Here is the nitty-gritty. 

(A) There is no theme this year. 

(B) No plans for a Grand Marshall planned. 

(C) Using the same route as before, the boat parade will be launched on Saturday, July 1 at 1 p.m. from Kiefer’s Marina on East Reservoir. 

(D) Prizes will remain the same. They are: First place - $700. Second - $300 and third - $200.

Now here is the kicker. This will only happen if a minimum of ten boats are registered by Friday, June 23. Otherwise, the boat parade will be canceled. And that, folks, would be a shame. After all, it defies logic why we would start something as nice and as much fun as these Portage Lakes July Fourth activities if we don’t plan to continue them?

If you use your imagination, the door is open to possibilities. Do a caricature of the president in the Oval office. With the Cavs and Tribe considered true contenders for a world title and the Browns only a pretender, sports is another possibility.

Fairytales offer numerous possibilities. Consider the Three Li’l Pigs, Goldilocks, Pinocchio, Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, Hansel and Gretel, Chicken Little, The Li’l Engine That Could, any Dr. Seuss character, and so many more it would take a column and then some to name them.

Don’t forget westerns. My favorite is Zorro. Included are stars such as Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Lash LaRue, Roy Rogers and Dale Evens, Calamity Jane, Cat Ballou, Gunsmoke’s Matt Dillon, Kitty, Doc and Chester or Festus, Buffalo Bill Cody, the Ponderosa characters and Wild Bill Hickok.

A classic scene could be the end of the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie. Thinking there were only a handful trying to capture them, the two outlaws stormed out of their enclosed fortress only to be met by a spray of gunfire from an army of warriors. The entire scene could be greatly re-enacted, but instead of using toy guns, use water pistol and water blasters.

These are only a few ideas. Later on I’ll try to suggest more, but I’m sure there are better ones out there in the minds of you the readers. To join the parade, register at Kiefer Marine. An entrance fee of $100 is affixed for political boats and those with commercial advertising. All others are free.

Register now. Help the Lakes retain this annual July Fourth tradition and keep it a permanent event.

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