Boats on parade at Elkhart's 4th of July flotilla

Elkhart, Ind. Elkhart's 38th annual Fourth of July Flotilla made a splash on the Upper St. Joseph River Friday.

Participants decorated their boats for the floating parade starting at the Six Span Bridge. Boats competed for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place cash prizes plus a special patriotic prize.

"They've tried to bribe us three times now already and we won't accept bribes, of course," joked Elkhart's Mayor Dick Moore, who took the helm of the judge's boat.

Lt. Tom Shoff of the Elkhart Police Dept. patrolled the parade in a police boat. He said the flotilla used to have themes for decorating, but now anything goes.

"Last year, we just opened it up," Lt. Shoff. "Whatever you can imagine, whether it be patriotic, current themes -- like you saw the boat that had the soccer team on it -- certain news items, etc."

Land-bound spectators watched the parade of boats float by from Martin's Landing. There a Monster Message jumbo-tron had a live stream of pictures and winners.

Organizers also honored two longtime flotilla supporters -- Jim Pettit and Bill Darwin -- who have passed away in recent years.

"We've vowed to keep it going ever since," Mayor Moore said.

The special patriotic prize is named in Pettit's honor.

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