Cow Hill Yacht Club’s Venetian Festival July 27-28 amplified its “The ’60s” theme Saturday after dusk with a lighted boat parade enjoyed by thousands of viewers along the Kalamazoo Lake shoreline.
“We had 12 entries that were all unique and extremely well-done,” parade event captain Jeff Slayer said. “We had small and large craft that were amazing in their lighting and decoration.”
Boats competed in each class for first-, second- and third-place trophies, plus cash prizes.
In Class 2 (vessels 30 feet or longer), Jim and Barb Casey claimed first with “Surfin’ USA” boat. Second was Paul Cares with his Volkswagen bus cruising the river on a barge. Dave Draaisma won third for his “Peace and Love” boat.
Smaller-class boat winners were Alan Nelson with “Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine” (above), Michael Peri with his VW bus on a pontoon and Dave Joling with his boat featuring the Petula Clark song “Downtown” and dancers dressed in ’60s garb. At the awards ceremony all captains in the parade chose Nelson’s “Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine” for their Boaters’ Choice Award.
The boat captains also selected the theme for the July 26-27 Venetian Festival, “Polynesian and Other Island Life.”
Local marina members volunteered in many capacities to help make the charity-fundraising festival successful. Each marina receives points based on participation. Each lighted boat in the parade was worth 35 points, each dinghy in the dinghy poker run worth 5 points. An individual volunteer for any event received one point for their marina.
Singapore Yacht Club Venetian coordinator Patrick Murphy accepted the trophy on behalf of SYC.
“This celebrated festival has been a must-attend event for children and adults who consider it one of the best times anywhere on Lake Michigan,” said Cow Hill Commodore Lance Winchester. “In addition to everyone having a great time, attendees are helping to raise money for those in need in the area. All proceeds above expenses go to help local families and individuals facing hard times to get back on their feet.
“We welcome event sponsors,” Winchester continued, “who help us reduce expenses, so we may have more money to assist those who need a helping hand.”
Persons wishing to be a sponsor or to donate may contact the group through the website saugatuckvenetianfestival.org or by phoning Winchester at (616) 836-2371.
Cow Hill Yacht Club, a 501c3 nonprofit formed in 1976, calls itself “The Little Club with a Big Heart” and has more than 140 members.
It provided close $45,000 in 2017 to help local individuals and families with needs not covered by existing agencies. Examples include providing funds for three families to go to Mayo Clinic for treatment, paying rent for a Stage 4 cancer patient and helping renovate the home of an elderly disabled veteran.