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Findley Lake Celebrates Fourth Of July

Findley Lake firefighters release rubber ducks as part of Findley Lake’s annual Duck Race held on the Fourth of July. Hundreds of people turned out for the race. Photos by David Prenatt

FINDLEY LAKE — In Findley Lake, Independence Day celebrations begin July 3 with what is commonly referred to as “the secret boat parade.”

It’s not an official parade, explained one of the organizers, but it’s been going on for years.

“It provides something extra for the people of Findley Lake to enjoy,” he said. “It just started when a bunch of people said, ‘Let’s decorate our boats, put lights on them and drive around the lake.'”

This year’s “secret boat parade” involved 18 boats that circled the lake amid cheers, applause and horn blowing from the shore.

“It was pretty awesome,” one participant said.

Residents decorated their boats for a “secret boat parade” during the Independence Day celebrations. This year, 18 boats took part and circled the lake.

Of course the “secret boat parade” in no way detracts from the July 4 afternoon boat parade in which participants decorate their boats, cruise the lake and pass a judging station near the ramp. This, too, has been a tradition for many years and is viewed by crowds of people on the shore.

When speaking of Findley Lake’s Independence Day celebrations, one can never forget the great duck race, in which 2,200 plastic ducks are dumped in the lake by the flume. The ducks are propelled under the road and into the spill basin.

“It went very well,” said co-chairperson Nancy Sonney. “It was very organized this year.”

Sonney explained that the ducks are sold for $2 each or three for $5. Each duck has a number on its bottom and the owners of those that enter the spill basin first receive prizes.

The money raised goes to support the waterwheel, Sonney said.

The color of the duck designates the category of prize — pink for girls, blue for boys and yellow for adults. The adult category has been growing each year.

“We purchased 300 extra adult ducks and they all sold out,” Sonney said.

“People who want yellow ducks have to make sure they buy them early.”

Prizes ranged from small items like thermos jugs and binoculars to kayaks and a weekend stay at a local resort.

More than 200 people crowded the spillway area to watch the duck race. As the ducks came through the pipe, excited voices could be heard, saying things such as “Daddy, there’s three pink ducks in the net,” and “there’s so much blue at the finish line.”

Nate Cooke, 9, of Findley Lake won a collapsible garden cart, which he said was “pretty exciting.” His father, Dave Cooke, said with a smile, “This is our first win. He’s only 9, but we’ve been doing this for 10 years.”

Jim Travers of Findley Lake said he and his grandchildren from Erie had purchased 25 blue ducks. “It’s pretty good fun,” he said.

Matt Kubicki of Berea, Ohio, said he has attended the past three duck races.

“We like to come down to the lake for things like this,” he said. “It’s a great little town. This is the first year we were able to see them drop the ducks in.”

Judy Spilka of Cleveland and her family own a cottage in Findley Lake.

“The duck race is really neat,” she said. “It’s very colorful.”

But the day’s festivities did not end there. Many locals and visitors enjoyed the Findley Lake Volunteer Fire Department’s drive-through chicken barbecue, which began at noon and ran until the chicken was gone. This year, the barbecue was held at the Findley Lake United Methodist Church on North Road.

At 9:30 p.m., the day’s activities culminated with the lighting of hundreds of flares, all around the lake. To finish off the day, of course, there was a 30-minute fireworks show over the lake which could be seen from most places in the village.

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