Vessels Cruise In Annual Boat Parade
FINDLEY LAKE — While it wasn’t always certain Wednesday whether stormy weather would hold off this Fourth of July, the annual Boat Parade at Flume/Lakeside Park in Findley Lake still ended up entertaining local residents and tourists in attendance.
While the event was originally planned to start at 2 p.m., thunder and lightning delayed the parade, first until 2:30 p.m. and then at 4 p.m. when the event finally began.
This year’s theme of favorite college football teams required participating motor boats and pontoon boats to be decorated by families and friends to show off their higher education athletic spirit. The theme was well-realized with boaters covering themselves in face paint, playing with props and cheering with their team spirit as they made their way along the shores of the lake.
This 29th annual Boat Parade attracted tourists and locals to the scene. As a common vacation destination, Findley Lake was used to, as usual, usher out viewers in droves at parks, local businesses and the Paradise Bay Park Family Campground.
Speaking of the campground, this year’s parade started off on a new note. Co-owner of the campground Jennifer Mazur, along with her husband Todd, became the lead organizer after no one was going to step up to continue running the parade. Without the Mazurs and her collection of volunteer judges, the Boat Parade would have disappeared from Findley Lake, just a year before next year’s 30th event, which will be themed for favorite bands. Mazur plans on sponsoring the parade next year as well.
“If there was thunder and lightning with it, I don’t want to put anyone at risk,” Jennifer said.
She and her volunteers were thankful the weather cleared up from pouring rain and stormy skies to clear horizons and a heavy dose of heat, allowing Mazur’s first Boat Parade to be a success.
Notable craft included vessels of many sizes, sporting local and distant college teams. A motorboat from Camp Schneider was fashioned after Pennsylvania State University blue and white. Boaters shouted the titular “We are Penn State!” chant, accompanied by trombone music, balloons and raucous cheering.
Ohio State University was represented twice on the lake, including one motorboat that shared the OSU designation with the University of Michigan, which is known to be a bitter rival of OSU. Extended family from Akron, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pa. joined together in the sun to show off their pride as alumni and fans. Parents, children and other riders of this boat wore face paint and even featured a referee costume, taped letters on their chests to spell out the schools’ abbreviations and a football suspended on a field goal-type structure that was pulled back and forth between the two represented teams when the parade was in session.
Other boats showed their scholarly and athletic pride by featuring decorations from the Edinboro Fighting Scots to the University of California, Santa Cruz, which featured boaters throwing bananas into the audience and shouting the famous “B-A-N-A-N-A-S” lyric from Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” in pride of the yellow school color.
Among the dozen boats in attendance, rubber footballs were thrown, and all spirited boaters donned some sort of costume and reveled in their boisterous cheers.
Findley Lake residents seemed to enjoy the parade once it started, and non-locals shared that enjoyment. Art shop September Moon sits along Main Street, and shop owner Leanne Becker from North East, Pa. has set up her business for years and got her first chance to leave her establishment to see the boats in action.
“It’s not a big shopping day,” Becker said, so she got to enjoy the festivities this year.
Dan Susi, an Erie, Pa. resident, shared the Boat Parade with his family, including his daughter who set up a lemonade stand. She puts on an annual stand to quench thirsts of potential customers.
“It was interesting because we had some people all dressed up as Clemson tigers,” said Susi, who realized boats were totting college pride from schools throughout the country.
Lead boat passenger Tammy Zanghi rode in the Sun Tracker with her husband Richard leading the competitors along their route after she earned second place honors for the past two years.
“It’s really cool,” Tammy Zanghi said of the parade.
Judges gave their opinions on the boats to award first and second place honors for motor boats and pontoon boats in separate categories. Viewers were also polled to give their thoughts on what should be the people’s choice winner. The winner of the competition took home a traveling trophy and grand prize plaque. Boats passed the judging area and all shores twice to allow time for decision-making and more cheers from the audience.
Volunteer judge Natalie Loucks, from Erie, Pa., saw the Boat Parade for the first time Wednesday and had jumped on as a judge after being asked to chip in by Jennifer. Several judges scoped out the competition from their canopy.
As of press time Wednesday, the results had not been revealed for the Boat Parade.