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Let the good times float

Each July, Lake St. John fills with a parade of decorated boats and floats for the annual Lake St. John Flotilla. The Rev. Louis Sklar, below, will bless the fleet from the Steckler pier near the Spokane Resort. This year’s parade will begin at 2 p.m. July 5.
Each July, Lake St. John fills with a parade of decorated boats and floats for the annual Lake St. John Flotilla. The Rev. Louis Sklar, below, will bless the fleet from the Steckler pier near the Spokane Resort. This year’s parade will begin at 2 p.m. July 5.

A parade of boats will fill Lake St. John on the Fourth of July weekend to continue a Miss-Lou tradition that’s equal parts Mardi Gras parade on water and patriotic celebration.

The annual Lake St. John Flotilla and blessing of the fleet will start at 2 p.m. July 5 around the area of Spokane Resort on Lake St. John.

The flotilla is an annual event, set for the weekend closest to the Fourth of July, that raises money for charitable causes through the entrance fees for those who want to participate in the flotilla’s contest. Contestants are judged in the categories of patriotic, non-patriotic and small craft entries.

Boats are normally the main participant, but anything that floats can also join in the fun, as long as it can maintain parade speed, organizer Donna Maroon said.

Registration will be from 9 a.m. to noon that morning at the resort. A $10 registration fee is required for each boat.

The parade will begin at the north end of the lake with Rosco from 95 Country serving as the grand marshal.

Concordia Parish Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick will lead the procession after the blessing of the fleet by the Rev. Louis Sklar, the pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Ferriday.

The blessing of the fleet — in which a Catholic priest will sprinkle each passing boat with Holy Water as part of the blessing — will be at its usual place at the Steckler family pier, Maroon said.

“Even if you’re not big on the decorations and that kind of stuff, we encourage everyone to come out and get their boats blessed by Father Sklar,” Maroon said. “That’s meant to bless each boat for a safe summer on the lake.”

With spiritual matters taken care of, it’ll be time to party as boats parade around the lake to be judged on creativity of their decorations.

For the second year in a row, no set theme exists for the flotilla. Organizers chose to leave the decisions about decorations to the boat owners.

“It’s hard to decide on one particular theme, and I think this way it opens up a lot more creative ideas people can have when they’re not stuck with one specific theme,” Maroon said. “This way, people can do whatever they want.”

In past years, the craft decorations have gone above and beyond organizers’ expectations.

Last year, the riders of the boat “Jenny” were all dressed as characters from the film “Forrest Gump,” while another boat re-created a floating water park with spouts and a slide into a kiddie pool.

“Everyone gets so excited to see what kinds of decorations people come up with,” Maroon said. “I’m sure we’ll have all kinds of decorations this year.”

The decorations of each float, however, aren’t often shared with anyone else until the day of the event, Maroon said.

“A lot of people take it seriously, so we won’t know who’s doing what until they come to register their boat,” Maroon said. “We haven’t really heard a lot of what people are going to do this year, because everyone is keeping it close until the day of the event so other people can’t find out what they’re doing.”

T-shirts for the event are on sale now for $15 each for adult sizes and $10 for youth sizes. Posters are also available with the same design printed on the T-shirt for $10.

For more information, contact Maroon at 318-481-0182 or at donnamaroon@aol.com.

 

 

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