A Colorful Boat Parade

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Photo by Lester Smith

Reminiscent of Washington crossing the Delaware, the bowman on this festive boat in the Congamond Independence Day Boat parade holds his big flag high as the parade passes Saunders and heads back north. Unlike this small speedboat, most of the craft in the parade would be described as portable patios, with two pontoons and a spacious deck.

It’s not the kind of parade with marchers in step, but the motif was Patriotism, and patriotic spirit was certainly evident with the splendid red, white, and blue trappings on many of the boats that circled Middle Pond on Saturday, July 7. This traditional event held by Citizens Restoring Congamond was bigger than ever this year.

The event began at about 5:00 p.m. with music from the PA system to entertain as boats gathered at anchor in front of the performance stage at Babb’s Beach. Some headed in to tie up on the beach, carefully avoiding the half-dozen kids swimming. (Signs warned that no life guard was on duty.)

This being an Independence Day celebration, the event started with Kristina Perez, 12, singing “God Bless America,” followed by “America the Beautiful.” Kristina, from Avon, is the granddaughter of Scott and Ginny Graves. Then Ron Greene, who lives on Babb’s Road next door to the Rink and organized the event this year, explained the new course of the parade. This course was designed to provide a better view for some west shore residents who felt they had been neglected in previous years. This year the boats were to head directly west to the Southwick shore, then turn south along the Middle Pond shoreline to Saunders boat livery. From there the course headed back north along the east shore all the way to the State Pier by Louie B’s, then returned to Babb’s.

With “First Call” from Steve Ferrari’s bugle, the parade headed off. Greene reported that onlookers along the route counted about 87 boats this year, a new record. But only 15 had registered for the judging, probably because prizes were a new feature this year. Judges were stationed at Saunders, the Pier, and at Babb’s.

Afterwards, as the judges assembled and deliberated, a number of raffle winners were announced. The raffle, with generously donated prizes, was held to benefit the “Save North Pond” campaign, an effort to preserve a large tract of undeveloped land in Southwick, east of North Pond. Then came the decisions: The well-decorated party barge of Grand Marshal Dennis and Katie Goldie was awarded first prize. (Jerry Crane, former parade organizer, was co-grand marshal with the Goldies; his boat followed them leading the flotilla.) Second and third prizes went to Scott and Ginnie Graves and Josh Dillingham. And an honorable mention was given to Laura Stoper, whose balloon-laden boat was amusingly masquerading as a duck.

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