Think about decorating your boat now and you may think you’re rushing the season. But it’s never too early to keep in mind how easy it is to decorate a boat for parading, especially on patriotic holidays (hint, hint). If you’re thinking the Fourth of July and the boat parade, your thoughts are the same as mine, so keep thinking along those lines.

It doesn’t take a great amount of talent to decorate a boat. Neither does it take much time or money. And even if you don’t win one of the many awards given out each year, you’ll still have a boatful of fun. It should be listed among your New Year’s resolutions. Here’s why.

Contrary to what many think it’s really not expensive. Three of the easiest ways to decorate a vessel are with flags, balloons and either crepe paper streamers or ribbons. All three materials are economical and can be turned into a family project. With the kids helping, you’ll not only be bonding, but building memories for them in later years; memories which they themselves can build upon by doing the same with their kids. That helps the boat parade continue year after year.

After all, for 42 straight years this tradition here in the Portage Lakes has continued. It would be a shame if it dropped off the July Fourth agenda just because no one cared anymore.

I recall a few years back when rumors of its demise ran rampant through the lakes. Our phone was ringing off the hook, and our number is unlisted.

"Mr. Weaver, what’s all this I hear about not having a boat parade this year?" they’d ask, as if I had everything to do with whether it remained a scheduled feature for our annual celebration. For a while my negative numbers were lower than the president’s; that is until I explained that if no one entered their boat it would be kind of hard to have a parade. Not surprisingly, everyone of those callers agreed.

Some of the best entrants I’ve seen over the years were tastefully decorated vessels of balloons, flags and ribbons. Their simplicity caught the eyes and attention of the viewers and warranted a well deserved round of applause from the crowded shores.

Many entrants used just one of those three, but there were some boats that used a combination of any two. For example; one was decorated using flags and streamers. Another using flags and balloons and a third using balloons and streamers.

One boat, however, used all three. At each post a small American flag was fixed. Alternating between the flags were red, white and blue balloons. At the back were two much larger flags, one starboard and the other port, with patriotic colored streamers affixed to both sides of the boat. There was nothing cluttered about it. It was done tastefully and I tipped my hat to their entry.

Last year the parade was scheduled to be canceled if they could not get a minimum of 10 entrants. After this column ran, informing everyone of this possibility, the entrants nearly tripled. I think we should strive for that again this year and even try to surpass it. Lets shoot for 40 boats. That’s not an impossible number to reach. After all, during the fireworks shows there are literally thousands of boats on the water. We can do it.

And if you hear the boat parade is being canceled, ignore it, folks. It’s fake news. Unless you read about it in "Outtakes Around The Lakes," that’s all it is, and all it will ever be; nothing more than fake news.

Now gather the family around the blazing fireplace and warm their hearts with discussions on how to decorate the family boat this summer for the 43rd annual Portage Lakes July Fourth Boat Parade. I guarantee you’ll have more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

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