Boat Parade

Patriotic spectators line the shore and wave American flags as the red, white and blue decorated boats pass during last year’s parade.

The list of events postponed or canceled by COVID-19 is a long one, but one favorite local tradition is not on it: the Lake Gaston Boat Parade. 

The 35th edition of the boat parade is a go and will commence 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the Fourth of July. 

In the past, the parade has featured as many as 60 boats. 

“If the weather is good,” organizer Charles Ledbetter said, “it’s going to be huge.”

Ledbetter predicts a potentially “massive” turnout since “everybody is tired of hearing the word ‘canceled.’”

There aren’t many rules or regulations for the boaters to know as far as the parade goes. 

“Just show up,” Ledbetter said. “That’s the beauty of it.”

Some boats may only have an American flag or two while others will be decked out in full. 

The route is unchanged from recent years with boaters recommended to line up beginning around 9:30 a.m. near the mouth of Holly Grove Creek near mile marker 17 in Bracey, Va. 

Then it’s down Holly Grove, or Great Creek, toward the 903 Bridge and Americamps before heading west across the South Shore Lake, then back east to the mouth of Sixpound Creek, where the parade will end with a splash from the trucks of Macon, N.C.’s Churchill Five Forks Volunteer Fire Department. 

Churchill Five Forks VFD will be set up at the end of E. Little Ponderosa Road off Nocarva Road with their fire/rescue boat ready in the water too. 

A reciting of the “Pledge of Allegiance” and “God Bless America” will wrap the morning’s festivities before the boats head back out to the main lake. 

The whole show should take a couple of hours or less. 

Scott Anderson and wife Kim started the parade in the mid-1980s with just a few boats and friends in Poplar Creek. 

They’ll be there this year, too, in the second boat behind Ledbetter’s red leader.  

Anderson said the event is not intended to be political. He just wants people to have a good time. 

“We’re glad to have something to do,” Anderson said. “I think a lot of people are as well. I hope to think this will lead to getting back to some normalcy, by getting out in the sun (for a while).”