When the rumors started, I immediately checked them out. Trust me, folks, they're not true. There will be a Portage Lakes July Fourth Boat Parade this year … the 41st continuous one. 

I'm not sure how or by whom they were started. They appear out of nowhere almost every year. But pay them no heed. As a matter of fact, do the opposite. Run right down to Kieffer Marine and register your boat, decorate it, and then join the parade and vie for the cash prizes. Who knows? Whoever started those rumors, it could just get their goat. 

Our annual boat parade is again produced by the Portage Lakes Fireworks Association. While no rain date has been set, the parade is scheduled to be launched on Saturday, July 2 at 1 p.m. from the waters of East Reservoir in front of Kieffer Marine on Portage Lakes Drive in Coventry Township. Have your decorated boat in the waters of East Reservoir at Kieffer's Marine no later than 12:50 p.m. The parade starts promptly at 1 p.m.

If you're a private citizen like me, registration is free. However, any boat used for political or business purposes must pay a registration fee of $100. There are no exceptions. Registration can be made at Kieffer Marine. The deadline for registering is Saturday, June 25 at the end of the business day. After registering, be sure to post both numbers you receive on BOTH sides of your vessel so the judges can easily identify you.

In some years past, a specific theme was chosen for all parade participants to follow. Boats were decorated according to that year's theme. This year there is an open theme, which should make it easier and better. In other words, rather than have someone dictate what theme to follow, you select how you want to decorate your boat.

Take balloons, for instance. There are hundreds of different shaped balloons today. Cartoon character balloons, heart shaped, sport and team logo balloons. It wouldn't take much to load up your boat with a hundred or more different helium filled balloons and cruise in the parade.

Or, you could create a satirical characterization of different presidential candidates and their running mates, and believe me, this is one year that supplies us with a whole heaping chest full.

Don't forget the great white whale, Moby Dick, and the pirate, Blackbeard, who spent most of his infamous years on a boat. Or the three ships of Christopher Columbus; the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Even the Mayflower, loaded with costumed pilgrims would garner the attention of the judges.

On the entertainment front, there are movie characters you could emulate. Characters performed by Jayne Mansfield, John Wayne, Morgan Freemen, Marilyn Monroe, Tom Hanks, and Sidney Poitier. There's also Harrison Ford who played Indiana Jones, Sean Connery, the first James Bond and Kevin Costner of the JFK movie. 

And to keep everyone honest so they don't drop out after passing the judges stands, this year the judges will be at undisclosed locations. They'll be closely watching your boat when you least expect it as you parade the entire route, so give everyone a good show.

A first-place prize of $700 will be awarded. Second place wins $300 and third takes home $200. There will also be a trophy awarded, and each boat that enters receives two free Portage Lakes July Fourth commemorative T-shirts. Extra T-shirts will be available for others to purchase.

The award ceremonies will follow a picnic lunch for the participants at the new State Park Beach on Turkeyfoot Lake across from Dusty's Landing.

Remember also that alcoholic beverages are prohibited in watercraft. And officials urge you to fill your tank with gas before entering the parade. 

Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com.