Anyone driving around East Hampton on Saturday knew something was happening. Party tents were going up, people were gathering and there were many boats on Lake Pocotopaug. It was time for the Seventh Annual Dennis Griswold Showboat Parade.
The weather cooperated as people along the shore of Lake Pocotopaug waited for the decorated boats to arrive for the Showboat Parade, sponsored by the Friends of Lake Pocotopaug (FLP) each year. There was no cost to enter a boat. With no set theme, the owners decorated the boats any way they wanted.
There were prizes awarded for the boat’s appearance, special effects (music, props or in this year’s case, a jumping car), and enthusiasm. The judges also looked at environmental awareness (percent of recycled material used in decorations) of each boat.
The prize for best-decorated boat was $500 for first place. Dan Peszynski, Captain of the Boar’s Nest with an obvious Dukes of Hazzard theme, won. Lobsters on the Loose, captained by Andy and Linda Tierney, won $250 for second place. The $100 gift certificates to Carman Anthony’s for third place through sixth went to Sherri and Peter Owitz, David Korman, Steve Peterson, and Colin Kilpatrick. All of the children that entered won a prize. The judges were Carmen Vacalebre, owner of Carmen Anthony’s Restaurant, and Brad Davis, WDRC radio personality.
Raffle prizes were drawn at 6 p.m. Among them, Mark Skowronek won the $10,000 grand prize, Gail Zemba won $3,000 and Mike Luddy won a $1,000 Stop & Shop gift card.
The raffle is the primary way that FLP raises funds to finance its activities. Some of those activities are Sear Park Improvement ($21,000), 25 Ultrasound Algae Control Units installed and operational ($66,000), 15 new buoys ($1,960), East Hampton Fireboat ($13,000), trauma bag, backboard straps and rescue ramp for the fireboat ($1,000), and East Hampton Police boat ($1,000).
The group has been working to reduce the algae concentration in the lake. The long-term solution is to decrease the input of nutrients into the lake. FLP has concentrated on a number of short-term methods of controlling the algae growth. Installing the 25 ultrasound algae control units around the lake was one measure. These units kill algae up to a 300-foot semicircle of their immediate location.
They are also working with the town in exploring an aeration system that will control the amount of algae growth.
Dennis Griswold (Capt. Grizzy) organized FLP with a goal of restoring the health of the lake water and improving the environment surrounding the lake. Griswold died in 2008 but FLP is dedicated to continuing working toward the goals Griswold set. Starting with a fundraiser in 2004, FLP has raised over $125,000 for lake improvements.
FLP is a nonprofit public charity corporation set up to give the residents of East Hampton a medium through which they can support their lake.
For more information and to find out how to assist in preserving Lake Pocotopaug, go to www.ehflp.org.