Having received a phone call from Dano Mundy, the Chairman of the Portage Lakes July Fourth Activities, I’ve officially learned that the annual boat parade is now a go. That’s right, folks. It has a green light. It on. As of this column’s deadline, the ten boats needed for the parade to happen have been reached. As a matter of fact it’s now at eleven and still growing. And there’s still time for more. I have no doubt that total will increase rapidly and that number may possibly double or more as we approach the deadline.

If you’re reading this on Friday, June 23 before the business day closes, and you haven’t yet registered to enter the annual boat parade, drive right down to Kieffer Marine on Portage Lakes Drive in Coventry and do so now. After today, just like our beloved Cavs and Tribe, it’s wait ‘til next year.

As long as you’re not a business or political organization, registration is free. Nevertheless, money should never be a deterrent to entering the boat parade because it doesn’t have to be. As a matter of fact, money should be an incentive. That’s why there are twelve hundred dollars in prizes for the best decorated boats. 

There are ways that are easy to decorate a boat tastefully, inexpensively and without breaking the bank. With a little Yankee ingenuity laced with some old fashion imagination, you too can vie for those boat parade cash prizes. All it takes are inexpensive materials such as balloons, ribbons, crepe paper streamers, flags, string and tape.

All these materials can be purchased inexpensively from local discount stores in the area such as Wal-Mart, Staples or Target. And the best part of it is the small amount of time it takes you to decorate your vessel. It’s so easy that you can actually rise early the day of the parade, eat breakfast, decorate your boat, come back for lunch and be ready to sail by 1 PM.

Let’s start with balloons. Use any color you’d like. Tie the ends with ribbons. Use any design or balloons with hearts, flags, fireworks, whatever printed on them. But since it’s the Fourth of July, a patriotic national holiday, I recommend using red, white and blue balloons. Regardless of what colors you choose, the hardest part of this job is blowing them up. If you’re short-winded like some of us ol’ geezers, have the kids blow them up. Make it a contest., The one who blows up the most wins five dollars. You may be surprised, but you’ll find out that they love to do it.

Tie a string around the end of the balloon and secure the other end of the string to the boat. Take about five or six balloons, tie them all together and then on to the middle of the bow. On each front corner do the same. Halfway between the center bow and the corner tie one balloon and continue this pattern down each side of the boat until you meet at the end.

If you have kids aboard, and I hope you do, tie balloons on their life jackets and around each of their wrists so that when they wave to the crowd, they’re waving the balloons, too. That’s all it takes and you’re ready to parade with the best of them.

If you prefer not to use balloons, that's fine. Instead, use inexpensive streamers tied to your boat or else mix them with the ribbons and balloons, You’ll be surprised how festive they look when you’re finished, and who knows, they just might impress the judges to the point you, too, could walk away with prize money.

More importantly, the fun for the kids is in parading and waving at the crowds as the crowds wave back. It’s their 15 minutes of fame.

Carpe diem!

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