The Oconomowoc Boat parade has a long history of entertaining hundreds of people over the decades. A lot of hard work and creativity has gone into the creation of boats over the years. The parade‘s original date is uncertain as to when it began, but there was a day time parade with no lights in the 1970’s. In 1972 the Bill Chapman boat won 1st place with the “Good Ship Lollipop”. The parade then took a hiatus for a few years, and began again in earnest in 1989. That was the year the Reitbrock boat won 1st place. The next year, in 1990, the Zeutzius boat was decorated as a French Café and its theme was “ Café Labelle”. Not having won for a few years, the Rhodee Family from Rhodee Florist, kicked it into high gear and have had imaginative and over the top decorated boats ever since. The Rhodees traveled to California as part of the American Legion band who was invited to march in the Rose Bowl Parade over many years. Young Adam Rhodee went with this mother and father Ken and Judy, and while they practiced their instruments, he walked around and learned how they put beautiful floats together. One of the 1st Rhodee boats had many flowers on it, followed by clever years of Indian Villages, Rubber Duckies and this year Jaws, to name only a few. There were some engineers and creative people like Don Popp and Bill Babcock who decorated boats over the years to try and rival the likes of the Rhodee boats, and while they came close in ingenuity, they couldn’t quite top the best. After a while, the committee stopped handing out trophy’s as each boat is so good in its own right. The boat parade is an integral part of what has become to be known as “Festival Week” where Oconomowoc lights up the lake with its Boat parade on the 3rd Saturday of each year, followed by spectacular fireworks displays. None of this could be possible without the help of a group of people who work hard to organize the parade, by the people who participate, by those that donate the generators that are used to create light, and most importantly, the funds provided by Bank Five Nine, The City of Oconomowoc and all the wonderful people who generously donate money to get the fireworks off the ground. And of course, thanks to all of you who come and participate and make it worthwhile with your generous applause.
Article by: Maureen Stapleton – Broker