Nasty rumors. They spread every spring about the Portage Lakes boat parade being on its last leg because, as they claim, it's impossible to get boats to enter.

Nasty rumors. They spread every spring about the Portage Lakes boat parade being on its last leg because, as they claim, it's impossible to get boats to enter.

It must be the goal of these naysayers to end it. But I'm not about to let it go without a fight. And you can join me by entering your boat in the parade.

A cash prize of $1,100 awaits winners, plus – for Best of Show – the Tommy Leighton Trophy. Each entry gets six free Koozies (wrap-around cup insulators).

There's no theme. That makes it easy. You simply choose and decorate your boat accordingly. Choosing's the easiest part. There are a million themes. I'll help you get started by suggesting some.

Movies: Select a movie such as "Titanic." Decorate you boat fittingly. Put a giant white Styrofoam "iceberg" on the port (left) side of your boat facing the judges with a band on board playing "Nearer My God to Thee."


Patriotic: Pick the scene of Washington crossing the Delaware, Lincoln reading the Gettysburg Address or the 1776 signing of the Declaration.

Celebrations: The nation's birthday. She's 238 years old and still good looking for a bi-centennial gal. Decorate your boat with a huge birthday cake and 238 battery powered candles.

Exploration: The launching of both Ohio's John Glenn into orbit or Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon, are two scenes that are close to home.

Animals: Noah's Ark with stuffed animals or bring aboard your pets and place a patriotic kerchief around their neck. Dress the kids in patriotic garb and let them have a ball. Turn it into a family affair.  

Sports: Baseball, football, basketball, golf, bowling, swimming, badminton, disc golf, soccer, hunting, pocket billiards and fishing.

Books: “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “Tom Sawyer,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “Rip Van Winkle” or “Gulliver's Travels “are all good choices.

Religion: Kids dressed as angels, even if they aren't little cherubs. Depict Christmas with Mary, Joseph and the Christ child. Put aboard a lamb, some shepherds and wise men. And don't forget the star.

Leaders: Local elected officials are always good subjects. Green's Lt. Gov. of Ohio, Mary Taylor, Bill Allen, the official unofficial mayor of Portage Lakes or Dano Mundy, the Fireworks Chairman are all good choices. Local business people, such as Karen Ayers of Ayers Insurance or Mark Norris of Dietz's Landing work well. But keep it civil. After all, it's all in good fun.

The idea for themes is endless. The kids will love helping decorate the boat. All you need is to gather family, talk it over, select a theme, decide what to depict and put it together. Most boats can be decorated in a few hours. Who knows. Yours may be a winner!

This year's July Fourth Boat Parade is Saturday, July 5. It starts at 1 p.m. in East Reservoir in front of Kieffer's Boat House on Portage Lakes Drive in Coventry Township where you must register and pick up your placard number. Fix the number on the starboard (right) side of your boat so the judges can see it. Except for political boats, there's no entry fee. Political boats pay $100.

Do this and you'll have a fun filled Fourth. And the only thing ending about the boat parade will be those nasty rumors of its premature demise.

Be sure to have plenty of drinking water aboard, especially if you bring along your pet. Make sure you also have a least one life jacket for each person aboard your vessel during the parade.

One last reminder. The Portage Lakes is a state park and as such alcoholic beverages aboard boats are prohibited.

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