By Lauren Quirici
East Hampton residents can only wonder what kinds of fanciful floats are in store for the tenth annual Captain Grizzy’s Showboat Parade on Lake Pocotopaug. On Saturday, August 9 at around 2 p.m., this year’s delightfully decorated boats will take to the lake for all to see. Each year at the parade, about fifteen to thirty creatively dressed boats set sail across the lake. Past years have seen boats resembling racecars, Noah’s Ark, covered wagons and more.
The parade is sponsored by the Friends of Lake Pocotopaug, who extend invitations to surrounding communities as far as Enfield and Windsor, as well as to some of the neighboring lakes. The group, largely comprised of waterfront or watershed area residents, focuses on raising money to keep the lake and surrounding area free of pollution. Among many fundraising efforts to benefit the lake environment is a yearly raffle that takes place at the parade, offering $10,000 to a lucky winner. “The lake is probably the biggest natural resource in East Hampton,” explains John Moore, lakefront resident and chairman of the Friends. “We are using the money to help educate and keep the environment either in the lake or around the lake and the watershed as clean as possible.” Moore has had his own boat in the parade each year since 2009. What creative theme has he come up with this year? “It’s a secret” he laughs. Last year, Moore’s boat, dubbed ‘The Rat Pack,’ was complete with life-sized cutouts of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and a ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign. The previous year, he created an homage to the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. “There’s been all sorts of things,” recalls Moore. “There’s been a Flinstone-mobile, there’s been a Scooby Doo van…a Munster-mobile…an Easter basket, a Santa’s sleigh. You name it. As far as the imagination can go.”
Three boats will be chosen as winners based on criteria ranging from creativity, workmanship, and special effects to team spirit and environmental awareness. Winners will receive cash prizes of $500 for first, $250 for second, and $100 for third places. Prizes will also be awarded in a children’s category. The costumed boats are only one of the reasons to attend Captain Grizzy’s Showboat Parade. Vendors offering everything from magic shows, games, food and drink, and even DNA identification will be at Sears Park to add to the fun. A celebration at Angelico’s Restaurant will follow. “It’s a lot of fun, and it brings people together,” says Moore. “I think it’s going to be a really successful year. That’s our hope,” says Lisa Ghent, chairwoman of the Boat Committee and head of the parade. Following the parade at 6 p.m., the winners will be announced during a celebration at Angelico’s Lake House, along with the grand prize winner of the $10,000 raffle. The parade is named for the late Dennis “Grizzy” Griswold, founder of the Friends of Lake Pocotopaug and previous operator of The Happiest Paddler Marina on the lake. Griswold originally dubbed the event the Princess Pocotopaug Pageant. After his passing in August of 2008, the name was changed in his honor. There is no charge for boat registration. Registration forms can be obtained on the Friends of Lake Pocotopaug website, and completed registration forms should be returned by August 1st in a sealed envelope to West Shore Marine (The Happy Paddler). The parade will take place on August 10th in case of rain. Raffle tickets can be purchased through Angelico’s Lake House for $20, and are available until 6 p.m. on the day of the parade.