Boat parade lifts holiday spirits

by Marianne Gasaway

and Michelle Watson

In a true “making lemonade out of lemons” moment, a boat parade was held in lieu of the traditional Fourth of July parade this year.  And it looks like it may become a fixture in the local holiday celebration.

As boats milled around at the parade start line, spirits were high and people were having fun checking out the clever decorations and themes.  Patriotic was, of course, the most prevalent, with plenty of red, white and blue and flags blowing in the wind.  One boat featured George Washington and Betsy Ross perched on the front in an old, wooden rocking chair.  Others took a more whimsical approach, like the one designed to look like a bathtub, complete with white balloons as bubbles and a big rubber ducky.  Another float entitled, “Barn in the U.S.A.,” featured real corn plants, a bale of hay and a faux barn door.

The parade was the brainchild of Andi Tisor, who said she had been spending most of her time in Clear Lake during this pandemic.

“I had listened to the conversations in April and May, and knew that the City of Clear Lake and the Chamber were having to make a very tough decision whether or not to have the Fourth of July celebration, or what modifications might need to be made.  When the tough decision was made, to cancel everything, I knew this town needed something.”

A boat parade seemed like a perfect solution.  Boats provide social distancing, and with over 10 miles of shoreline people could spread out safely.  CL Tel has a camera on the front of the Clear Lake Yacht Club, which would allow people to safely watch from their homes.

Tisor mentioned her boat parade idea to her mother, Denni Sue Erickson, who encouraged her to “run with it.”

“I really thought I’d offer a great idea, and someone else would pick it up,” Tisor confessed, but she spoke with the Chamber of Commerce and they helped her identify the steps she needed to take.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources approved the event, requesting she made sure to communicate safety measures.  Clear Lake Boats came to the rescue when she needed a sponsor.

“It came together very quickly,” said Tisor.  “It was very important to me to give this town and the people something positive to be excited about, and a safe way to celebrate our country and our town.”

With 125 boats taking off from the start line, and another 50 or so joining in along the route, Tisor said the parade exceeded her expectations.

The entire parade took about one and one-half hours.  It was led by the DNR, complete with sirens, and the Clear Lake Boats barge with a large American flag flying and music playing.  Clear Lake Boats staff also rode jet skis and used megaphones to direct boat traffic.

Fire Boat “Bud” assisted with the effort and even offered a refreshing spray to those on the docks who invited it. Tisor called Bud one of her favorite parts of the parade.

“I really liked it because I could see from across the lake where the front of the parade was.  There was lots of American Flags, and that made me very proud.  The bathtub, “bubbles” boat put a huge smile on my face.  I was glad to see businesses participate, and have fun.  If my one ‘ask’ was to give the kids a reason to smile, I think the morning was a huge success, and I am so proud of everyone!”

Above the lake, local aviators Mark Holt, Doug Rozendaal and Dan Sokolowski, provided a Liberty Flight flyover complete with white smoke.

Docks and the lake itself were full of many eager spectators cheering on the boats.  Some were waving flags and many were decked out in their best Fourth of July apparel.

“With all the negative news lately, it was great to see people come together to celebrate,” said Kilah Watson, a

To read more of this article, please login or sign up for our E-Edition

Comments are closed.