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A wave of patriotism to set sail

Photo by Danny Davis ParadeAhoy! Residents are invited to come aboard and celebrate the county’s Independence Day with the annual Boat Parade on Watauga Lake.
The 14th Annual Boat Parade will begin at Watauga Dam at 2 p.m, July 4.
Event organizer Terry Arnold said that in addition to celebrating the nation’s birthday, the parade this year will serve as a memorial to one of the parade’s biggest enthusiasts.
This year’s parade will be held in honor of Cody Roberts, who drowned in Watauga Lake over Memorial Day weekend.
“No one loved the lake more than he did,” Arnold said. “He rode in the parades with me on my boat for years.”
Arnold, who has participated in all 14 parades, said the event has drawn a significant crowd.
“Normally, there’s a big turnout,” Arnold said. “People need to come early if they’re going to try to get seats in the picnic areas. Hopefully, this year the weather will cooperate and we’ll have a good time.”
Every year, spectators get to see a steady procession of houseboats, pontoons, cruisers, runabouts and other vessels dressed in their best red, white and blue decorations.
“There’s usually a big turnout of 100-plus boats, and you never know what you’ll see,” Arnold said.
The parade will start at Watauga Dam and pass Shook Branch and The Captain’s Table. It will then go to Watauga Point and end on the far end of the Butler Bridge.
Several of the area’s local marinas award prizes for the best-decorated boats.
The biggest prize will come from Lakeshore Marina, which will award $300 in gas for the best-decorated houseboat. Fish Springs Marina, Cove Ridge Marina and Mallard Cove Marina will award $200 in gas for the best-decorated pontoon boat, cabin cruiser, and runabout, respectively. Winners in each category will also receive a trophy.
This year, participants are encouraged to call 725-2201 ext. 307 to register for the parade. Arnold noted participation in the parade is still free, but that registration will give organizers a better idea of how many plan to participate.
“It doesn’t cost a dime to enter,” Arnold said. “Just show up and decorate your boat however you want to, and we’ll have a good time.”
The marinas will also have a hand in refreshments, as well. Mallard Cove, Lakeshore, and Cove Ridge marinas will have grills fired up with food and drinks available to all comers. Arnold noted that The Captain’s Table would also be open for customers.
The Independence Day fun doesn’t end with the boat parade: Many of the marinas will have a fireworks display on July 4 or 5.
Lakeshore Marina will have fireworks on July 4 at dark. On July 5, Cove Ridge Marina will have fireworks at 9 p.m. and Mallard Cove Marina will have fireworks at 9:45 p.m.
In the event of rain, the parade will be rescheduled for July 5 at 2 p.m.