It’s true we here in the Portage Lakes celebrated our liberty on the second of July and not the fourth. But think of it this way. Thomas Jefferson finished writing the Declaration of Independence on the second. The signatures weren’t affixed until the fourth.

Nevertheless, the 2017 Fourth of July celebration may be history, but a tip of the Ol’ Captain’s Hat is warranted and goes to Mother Nature. Her timely assistance may have stopped disaster from occurring.

Amid threats of lightning, thunderstorms and heavy rains, Mother Nature played her role magnificently, right into the hands of July 4 festivity Chairman Dano Mundy and his Gang of 21. Cooperating with the powers-that-be, she delivered sunshine and clear blue skies for both the boat parade and sand castle contests along with starry skies for the breathtaking, thirty minute, fireworks extravaganza.

A surprising variety of nearly 30 skillfully decorated boats, fashioned by talented artists, formed a regatta, cruising its way along the shoreline of the many lakefront homes in the Portage Lakes. Thousands upon thousands of parade enthusiasts congregated on the waterfront lawns, boat docks, decks, bridges, vacant lots, park lands, beaches, roadways, restaurants and other commercial properties to view the two and a half hour spectacle and roar their approval.

Good old fashion entertainment was in vogue Saturday as many of the decorated vessels used a family theme in appealing to the younger set as kids of all ages enjoyed the procession. That family oriented theme paid off. In the end it was one of those beautifully decked out boats that was able to cruise away with the top prize.

Capturing first place was the Vesco family of Green for their beautifully decorated Beauty and the Beast boat. Cruising into second place was Mike Boyle of New Franklin and Matt Maier of Green with their Igloo Cooler entry and in third place was Jennifer Thayer and Larry Ryba, both of Coventry, for their vessel decorated as a Red Solo Cup. 

In fourth place of the boat parade was Melvin Vye of Coventry for his Tuba Fours entry and in fifth was the Scooby Doo/Mystery Machine boat entered by Sherry Johnson of Coventry. The Tommy Leighton/Kieffer Marine Tribute award went to John & Lorie Sasin of New Franklin.

From committee member Sean Freeman, the first place winner in the Sand Castle Building contest was the Wyke family of Green for their Skull & Crossbones sculpture. Second place went to Becca Ress and her friends for their Scales of Justice sculpture and third was captured by the Moss family for their Wack-a-Minion sculpture. The Kid’s Award was won by Wesley and Travis Hardin for their Fidget Spinner sculpture. Only the hometown of the first place award winner was included.

Later that evening, amid patriotic music simulcast over FM Radio 91.3, The Summit, literally thousands and thousands upon thousands of firework enthusiasts turned their eyes skyward for a good half hour as they oohed, aahed, wowed and watched in wonderment with mouths agape and experiencing some well deserved pride in knowing their show was the largest privately funded, public fireworks extravaganza in all 88 counties of the state of Ohio.

At the 16 minute interval, silence fell among the throngs as the radio host announced the next three booms would be in memory of all those who loved the fireworks, work hard at producing it and gave generously, but unfortunately, had met their demise. This was followed by another 14 minutes of constant barraging.

One wide-eyed sky gazer described the 30 minute show as "a 12 minute finale, followed by a three minute mini-grand finale, followed by a 10 minute finale and ending with a five minute grand finale." Other than the reverent one minute memorial of silence for the dearly departed, there were less than three seconds of noiseless intervals between rocket bursts.

In the end, it was a memorable Fourth of July celebration; one to use as a barometer for others, both in the past and for those yet to come.

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