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Pirates commandeer annual boat parade

By Katelyn Gendron-List, Staff Writer

SOUTHWICK For all those closeted pirates out there patiently waiting for the opportune moment to commandeer Congamond Lake, the annual boat parade on July 7 would be the best time to dust off your hats and swords.

This year's theme of the annual boat parade on Congamond Lake is "Pirates of the Congamond," and all those coming out for the day's festivities are encouraged to dress up not only themselves but their boats in their best pirate costumes, according to Fran Milliken, publicity chairman for the Citizens Restoring Congamond Boat Parade.

"This is a great community affair," Steve Schmid, president of the Citizens Restoring Congamond (CRC) said. "It's really a fun event to show people what happens out on the lake."

Milliken, also a member of the 2007 Citizen Restoring Congamond Boat Parade Committee, stated that they are expecting around 200 boats to participate in the parade. Boats entering in the contest for the best-decorated boat with a pirate theme, will sail along the shoreline of Middle Pond past the reviewing stand where three judges will choose the winner. According to Schmid, the judges will be Mikki Viereck from WWLP, Art Pinell, a member of the Southwick Board of Selectmen, and a Suffield town official yet to be named.

Boaters wishing to participate in the contest must pay an entry fee of $5 and all funds raised will go to the CRC for lake improvements. The CRC is a non-for-profit organization that began 15 years ago by people living on and using the lake, according to Schmid. The purpose of the organization is to monitor and maintain the cleanliness of the lake for all those who live on and use the beach and lake properties.

Last year the CRC was able to raise $8,800 for lake improvements and maintenance. The CRC is required every year to pay 1/3 of the total cost of the lake repairs and maintenance, and the towns of Southwick and Suffield are each responsible for 1/3 of the total cost.

"They've cleaned it up amazingly in the past ten years," Schmid said. "This is such a great recreational asset for Western Massachusetts."

Schmid went on to add that there is plenty to do on Congamond Lake even when people aren't dressing up as pirates. There's great bass and trout fishing, and people can rent boats, or canoe and kayak.

According to Milliken, this is going to be the most successful boat parade to date as the Parade Committee has already sold out of their first round of 1,000 tickets over the past two weeks. Usually the committee sells around 1,000 tickets in all however this year they are going back to print more.

"We're expecting two hundred boats and about one thousand people in all," Milliken said. "People really get into the spirit of the parade and the spirit of the theme."

However for those that do not wish to participate in the boat parade, they may enter into the raffle with more than 25 prizes. Such prizes include a "treasure chest" filled with gold coins. Tickets may be purchased at Jimmy's Pizza.

For more information on the 2007 boat parade visit the CRC website at