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Outtakes Around the Lakes: July was the month for lakefront parades

Frank Weaver Jr.
Suburbanite correspondent
The Suburbanite

I may not be so sure about you, but to me the month of July turned out to be a month of parades. Lakefront boat parades, that is. And why not? It's pleasantly hot, not frigidly cold. It's breezy, sometimes balmy; not tropical storm windy.

And it's summer. That annual season to which everyone looks forward. The one that brings us heat, not ol' man winter who feeds on a young lad and lassie's warmth; those never fearing youngsters who spit out that freezing cold and leave it as a long lost incident hidden among the rocks and crevices along the back roads of our frequently forgotten memories.

July means beautiful weather; except when it rains. And even then there are enough days in the 31 day month to safely postpone any scheduled parade and reschedule it. After all. Who doesn't love a parade?

I mention this because I'm still hearing comments (good ones) from so many about the Christmas in July parade held a few weeks ago on a most appropriate day, the 25th of July (exactly five months to the day when kids tell wacky tales of seeing sleighs and deer fighting for flying space among airplanes and other UFOs crowding a moonlit, starry-bright sky.

Getting back to those July boat parades, if you'll recall, the state would not give an okay to the official group who sponsors the July 4 boat parade and fireworks display every year due to the corona virus pandemic and the state mandated health standards of social distancing. But that didn't deter another group of Portage Lakers who decided to decorate their vessels with multi-colored Christmas lights and cruise the lakes with one boat following the other and at least six feet apart.

They cruised. Oh my how the cruised! Leaving the Upper Deck in West Reservoir, each boat with their lights softly glowing, fifty-two vessels charted their course toward the Iron Channel (Lover's Lane for all the purists) and East Reservoir, turning Port-side just prior to the entrance of the channel and hugging the Starboard shoreline around Pick's and what used to be the Olde Harbour Inn, returning to West Reservoir along the Starboard side and then into Turkeyfoot Channel.

Entering Turkeyfoot Lake they skirted the Port-side (east), turned Starboard at the southern tip and pointed their bows toward Mason's Point (where the fireworks are launched). From there they crossed over and embraced the shoreline of Turkeyfoot Island before ending their spare of the moment cruise at or near Dusty's Yacht Club.

And the lights? Their were strings of Christmas lights everywhere. On the bows, on the sterns, and any empty place that could be found on the decks. Simplicity was even a welcome sight. The owner of one 16 foot craft with an outboard motor simply hung a string of lights high on a pole that was attached to his bow and ran them the length of the vessel to a pole attached to the stern and him. That's all, Just a simple string of Christmas lights so he could join with others in celebrating whatever it was they were celebrating.

I have no idea who came up with this brilliant idea or who was in charge of organizing it, and quite frankly I have no plans on doing any research to find out. I do have some suspicions, and one of them is that because the state turned down the official request for a boat parade, they'd just cruise the lakes with their boats decorated and anyone who wanted to join them, to feel free to do so. But then, just like rumors, those suspicions certainly cannot stand on their own two feet whenever they're lined up against good ol' solid facts. But who cares? As long as they continue holding it year after year after year. That's how good it was. All 52 vessels that cruised.

Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com