The horde of floating craft looked like a cross between “Waterworld” and a Macy’s parade. As they have for decades, boaters on Loon Lake decked out their watercraft in stars and stripes and topped the event off with a war of water balloons as they paraded along the docks on Independence Day.
“I was raised on the lake,” Shelly Weiland, of Spokane, said Thursday. “This is our favorite holiday of the year.”
Loon Lake property owners for the past 30 years have celebrated Independence Day by decorating boats and parading the craft before vacationers along the docks. Attacking each other with water balloons and water cannons, boaters competed for prizes from the most patriotic to the most original boat decorations.
The boats included sail boats, ski boats, personal watercraft, pontoon boats and even one named “The Yellow Submarine.” They were decked out with all things American, including one boat emblazoned with “Let Freedom Ring,” as well as oversized “Monsters Inc.” characters.
Carol Johnson had more than a dozen adults and children on a boat that looked like an old Army landing craft. Her family owned one of the original cabins on Loon Lake and have returned every summer for 65 years, she said.
“We’ve got three generations of families on the boat,” said Johnson, wearing a red-white-and-blue star pillow on her head. “We got a bunch of costumes and threw them out for the kids.”
Bob Stanek, riding a two-person Sea-Doo watercraft, said he’s been on Loon Lake for 32 years. He and Carolyn Harbert both wore fuzzy versions of Uncle Sam hats as they motored along the parade.
“Every year it gets better in terms of decorations,” he said.
The Loon Lake Fourth of July Boat Parade is sponsored by the Loon Lake Property Owners Association. Participants simply give sponsors a name and a phone number and then join the flotilla of red, white and blue.
“We’ve been giving out prizes for the last three or four years,” Lee Evans said. “We used to give out ribbons. Now we give out dinners to local establishments.”
The boat owners are judged in four categories: originality, patriotic, theme and fun, Evans said.
“We also put on a Fourth of July fireworks show in the middle of the lake,” he said.
In addition to Old Glory, Jack Goodwin flew a Nebraska Cornhusker flag, denoting where he and his wife lived before they moved to Pullman in 1978.
“We got a place on the lake,” Goodwin said as a toddler on his boat doused the interviewer with a handheld water gun. “Every year, it’s a blast.”