For 44 consecutive years ,the antique boat shows have been as much a part of our Fourth of July celebrations in the Portage Lakes as the annual boat parades.


Since the boat parade, fireworks and sand castle contest have been canceled this year because of the pandemic, I still had high hopes that at least we'd be able to save July 4th with the Antique and Classic Boat Show sponsored each year by the Antique and Classic Boat Society's Northeast Coast Ohio Chapter (ACBS/NOC) along with the Portage Lakes Historical Society (PLHS). But those hopes were too high.


Carol Eubank, a long time member of the PLHS which co-sponsors the Antique and Classic Boat Show informed me there will be no show.


“Sad to say,” Eubank wrote, “it has been canceled per Gil Maringer, President of the Northcoast Chapter of the ACBS.”


In a brief news release, Walt Stashkiw, a long time member of the ACBS/NOC confirmed Eubank's statement when he emailed that the show was a no-go.


“Unfortunately, the boat show like many social gatherings which exceed the Governor’s guidelines has been canceled for 2020,” wrote Stashkiw. “We wrestled with this decision for two months. The board and boat show committee of the Antique and Classic Boat Society’s North Coast Ohio chapter tried to come up with a way to hold the show at the two restaurants (the Harbor and Pick's) who graciously host the event and maintain social distancing to insure the health of the participants and public. We could not insure either so the decision was made to plan on the show returning in 2021,” he continued.


“We are saddened for the loss of this show that has enjoyed a continuous run since 1976,” Stashkiw added. “We are thankful for all the show sponsors and the viewing public for their understanding.”


The boat show, which would've been held a week before the boat parade and fireworks has drawn participants and boat lovers from all across the eastern United States and is known far and wide for its excellent entries.


Originally, it was held the same day as the boat parade and fireworks. As a matter of fact, at first it was part of the boat parade but that changed for two reasons.


First, antique boat owners were reluctant to enter the parade for fear of another boat hitting theirs and chipping their wooden vessels which happened occasionally. As a result fewer antique boats entered each year.


Secondly, after the Antique and Classic Boat Show went on its own, but still shared the same day as the boat parade, it grew so large there was no room at the restaurant docks for patrons to stop for a refreshing drink or a snack. As a result, for the past 20 years or so the ACBS/NOC and the PLHS agreed to hold the show one week before the parade and fireworks. That way everyone wins; the boat society, the historical society, the boat owners, the restaurants, the patrons, the neighbors, the trustees (from lack of complaints) and the crowds of boat lovers.


In her email, Eubank said she fondly remembers the early parades and the luminaries. Now those, folks, are one part of our original celebration that we can still keep, and you can help.


Luminaries are so easy anyone can make them. All you need to buy are some white paper sandwich bags, about five pounds of sand and some votive candles. Simply put an inch or two of sand in the bag, set the candle in the middle and place them about six feet apart alongside your waterfront. When it gets dark, light the candles in the bags and watch the warm glow shimmering off the waters of the Portage Lakes.


There. That's all there is to it. Now you've helped save at least a little part of our July Fourth celebration here in the Portage Lakes.


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