During the last week or so I’ve been publishing posts with stories about camp. Here is one that is a little more current. This is from the 4th of July.
Some cities have parades with big bands marching and floats floating. Ironbound Pond has floats, too. Actually, it has a flotilla. The watercraft you see above make up the entire Ironbound Pond Boat Parade.
Now it may seem like an odd thing to call a collection of party boats, a speed boat, an aluminum fishing boat, and a Jet Ski an entire parade. Oh but it is!
The Ironbound Pond Boat Parade started about four years ago and has delighted camp owners every 4th of July. It’s a great chance to see friends, show off a few flags and even dress up a bit. From the shore, I spotted red white and blue top hats along with other festive attire. One boat was decked out with a New England Patriots flag and the inhabitants wore their Patriots football jerseys. These folks are hardcore fans. Go Pats!
To people who live in cities, all of this may seem like much ado about nothing. Those big cities have massive parades and firework extravaganzas. Even small towns have parades with school bands and a modest fireworks display. The denizens of the pond have none of that. What we have are boats. That’s not to say that some individual fireworks might be set off here and there, but mostly it’s about the boats.
That fella at the top of the page is Kirk Heald. He was the Grand Marshall and led the parade in the boat you see above. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you a little bit about this boat. Kirk has a 1954 Cadillac. Yes, there was a boat company named Cadillac, but it’s not the same as the car company. I know that because I checked. Kirk’s wife Debb told me this and I take that as gospel. Debb knows her Cadillac boats and I respect that. Plus, I want to keep her happy. The boat you see here is not Kirk’s 1954 Cadillac. Oh no! This one here is his father-in-law’s 1945 Cadillac. Debb was thrilled to see her husband and grandkids in her late Dad’s boat. That’s a bit of pond history right there!
The fact that Kirk was even in a boat on the 4th was remarkable. He had been in the hospital for a few months over the winter. He’d gone through a whole lot of medical awfulness. One thing after another, but he powered through. His wife Debb was by his side the whole time to cheer him on. You might think that would have gotten him down, but he kept going. Ok, that’s sounded like having Debb by his side might have gotten him down and I don’t want anyone to think that because nothing could be further from the truth. Also, Debb would kill me. Kirk was adamant that he was going to get better and often did things the docs didn’t want him to do. Pssst! Don’t tell the docs. I don’t want to get him in trouble! If I got him in trouble, Debb would not be happy with me, and we don’t want that!
Above you see Kirk trolling past our camp. That’s me in my bright orange shirt. Bill is beside me in more subdued attire. So subdued you can’t even see him. Now I ask you: “what fun is that?” If I asked him, you know what his response would be? “I’m no fun, we all know that!” That’s when I try to replicate his husbandly “smile and nod” routine. I fail badly. I laugh loudly. As most wives would.
At this point, you have probably figured out that I lied to you. I said it was mostly about the boats and that is very far from the truth. It’s about friends and family and a shared love for the pond. It’s about a small community coming together to celebrate the birth of our nation and to celebrate the recovery of one of their own.
So next time you see some small-town tradition that you think is a paltry affair, think of Kirk. Wait, that didn’t sound right, either. I’m really going to be in hot water here. Debb is going to murder me, I just know it! Let’s try this… When you see what you think is an unimportant small-town tradition, think of the friendships and families behind it. Think of the heart and soul of that tight-knit group of people just puttering around the pond in their boats. If you think it’s all about the boats, you’re missing a whole lot.
In the spirit of full disclosure, none of the pics I’ve used here are mine. I’m using the photos that Debb Heald took from her dock as the boats floated past. I could say that the reason I am doing this is that I was too busy waving from the shore to take some myself. I could say that I was so caught up in the moment I totally forgot to take any pics. Yup, I could say both of those things because they are true.
However, the biggest reason I’m using Debb’s pictures is that she’s a great photographer. She takes outstanding pictures. Just take a look at the American Eagle she captured below. Talk about a great symbol for the 4th of July!
The Loons at the bottom of the page are spectacular, too. She has a telephoto lens that can capture just about anything. Now you know why I don’t want her mad at me. Who knows what she might see across the pond at our place? The next loon shot could have me in the background in a bathing suit, and no one wants to see that!