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26th annual Flotilla in Ferriday was fun for all

Though rain threatened the day, the clouds held back long enough for more than 30 boats to parade around the lake.

Each one of them — with themes ranging from M*A*S*H to a Richard Simmons dance party — received a blessing from the Rev. John Pardue of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Ferriday.

“Guide us safely, Lord,” he asked in his invocation before the parade.

As the party approached, Pardue said he enjoyed the event for its abundant joy, but he also recognized it as an opportunity to show appreciation for one of God’s greatest gifts.

“God gave us the water,” Pardue said. “It nourishes us, it keeps us alive, but it also gives us joy.”

That joy showed in the faces of the many children as they leapt into the lake, played in the water with their friends and awaited the start of the show.

As the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office boat approached the priest’s pier, signaling the start of the parade, 6-year-old John Hazlip let everyone know what was about to happen.

“It’s coming! The parade is coming!” Hazlip yelled with excitement.

What followed was the combination of holy water, wild decorations and equally vibrant boaters that make the Flotilla a one-of-a-kind event.

Many of the boats competed in the patriotic category, sporting red, white and blue decorations and other iconic American images. One boat even had a giant, inflatable bald eagle tied to its top.

Meanwhile, boaters in the non-patriotic category showed off their creativity. With the boat “Splishing and Splashing in Lake St. John,” boaters dressed from head to toe in bath attire as they stood underneath an inflatable rubber duck and white balloons to represent bubbles.

Another boat, Mike and Cathy Cook’s “Sweatin’ to the Oldies on Lake Saint John,” featured retro exercise outfits, synchronized dancers and a bubbly Richard Simmons impersonator who mimicked the lively exercise icon to a T.

“You’re beautiful!” The impersonator who played Simmons said to those watching from their docks.

At the end of the day, “Splishin’ and Splashin’” received top honors, claiming the prize of overall winner at the Flotilla.

“Sweatin’ to the Oldies” took home the title of best non-patriotic boat, while William Barnes’ “M*A*S*H” and Emily Saffle’s “America is Incredible,” based on the animated movie franchise, “The Incredibles,” finished in second and third place, respectively.

In the patriotic category, Bucky and Patsy Mullholland placed first, while Matthew Netterville finished second and Joe and Jackie Bryan placed third.

Allison Cupit took home best small craft, while Wade Thompson came in second for that category.

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