By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – For the past 21 years, boat and watercraft owners of Houston County have converged on Houston County Lake to show their patriotism and take their shot at winning the annual 4th of July Boat Parade. 2018 will be no exception as the event enters its 22nd year Saturday, June 30.

According to event organizer Charles Sutton, the parade is set to kick off at 5 p.m. at the Statue of Liberty in Sutton Cove at Lake Forest Estates in Grapeland.

“The boats should be there at 4:45 p.m., because the judging actually begins before the parade starts so that we know who’s receiving what by the time they return,” Sutton explained.

Awards will be presented for Best of Show, First Runner-Up, Best Spirited Crew, Best Personal Watercraft, Best Towed Craft, Most Original and Most Patriotic. Honorable Mention will also be given.

“You can enter any kind of a watercraft and also a towed craft – they can enter a tube or a towed barge or anything,” Sutton said.

Registration will begin at the Statue of Liberty at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 30 and continue through 4:30 p.m. A $5 entry fee is required per craft.

“We usually have 10 to 15 boats every year,” Sutton said.

The first parade, Sutton explained, was organized by himself and his fellow Houston County Lake resident Dee Whitfield.

“I bought a Statue of Liberty and had it mounted on my deck, over my boathouse,” he said. “I laid a writing about it and about the original statue in New York and put it in the newspaper, and I said that it was going to be an unveiling on July 4th.”

Whitfield, who worked as a photographer for the newspaper, reached out to Sutton after seeing the article.

“She said that her and some other friends had talked about organizing a boat parade or something to do on the 4th of July for years,” he said. “They wanted to know if I would be willing to join with them in an effort to get something going.”

Sutton accepted the offer, and the first boat parade was held concurrently with the unveiling of the statue.

The parade location is accessible by land at 152 Mize Dr. in Grapeland.

For more information, contact Sutton at 713-539-8454.