Part I


If it caught you off guard, it caught me, too. So it doesn't take much for me and others here at the lakes to imagine your surprise. There they were, one festive boat after another, slowly cruising, some patriotically decorated, passengers onboard dancing or just waving, parading in a line, just as they do officially every year during an official Portage Lakes July Fourth celebration.


But this year was different. The boat parade was not official. As a matter of fact it wasn't even sanctioned by the Portage Lakes Fireworks Association (PLFA), the group of residents led by Dano Mundy who works hard each year to guarantee us a good, solid, reason for staying home and celebrating with others the birthday of this great nation. A swabbie must've put it together, the name of whom we may never know.


In plain words, it appears as if the citizens of the Portage Lakes were not overjoyed upon learning there would be no official boat parade, thanks to the state. So they took it upon themselves to make sure there was a "no-boat-parade" boat parade


As for myself, I lost count of the number of boats and Ella Wilson, my fifth grade granddaughter, whom I call Jitterbug because she can't sit still for more than a few minutes at a time, volunteered to share her count. But before doing so, this 10 year old (going on 21) quickly reminded me that she'll soon be in the sixth grade. More importantly, she'll be 11 in three months, of which I'm reminded often. "Grandpa," she offered, "I watched the whole boat parade and I liked it. I counted 38 boats. And they were all decorated pretty nice, too," she added.


When I asked her younger sister, Mia, if she watched the parade, she nodded her head. "What did you like best about the boat parade," I asked.


My youngest granddaughter, held up her pointer finger, indicating for me to wait a minute while she pondered. Analyzing my question deeply, she rolled her eyes and gave exhaustive thought to what was to her a seemingly complicated query. Expecting to wait for a nice, juicy quote that I could use in this column, she suddenly blurted it out. Before I was even ready to take down each and every word she had to share she proclaimed proudly, "All the pretty boats that went by, Grandpa."


Oh, from out of the mouth of babes!


My wife Peggy watched the parade from beginning to end. When she learned that Ella counted 38 boats, she said, "I think Ella may be a bit off. She may have left a bit late and missed a few at the end. I counted 48," she said, and then added, "the residents of these lakes are the best."


But the oldest of the three, AnnaMay, my red hair, blue eyed, 12 year old freckled face beauty insisted it was everything the others said it was, and even more so. "Grandpa, it was a patriotic celebration full of fun that will definitely be treasured and remembered for years."


"Hmm!" I muttered to myself. "This kid has got it all together. She must get that from me." I suppose it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to see how proud I am of them.


And then there's the most beautiful of them all. Twenty-three year old Nina who failed to report to me her findings on the "no-boat-parade" boat parade. But then, when you're as gorgeous as she is, I'm sure you can understand how she spends most of her time shooing the guys off her back. But more on her in a future "Outtakes" column.


Next week: What others are saying about the "no-boat-parade" boat parade, the "no-fireworks" fireworks and the "okay-to-use" luminaries and, from word on the water, how they're still talking about this year's Portage Lakes July Fourth "no-celebration" celebration.