Capital City Lake Murray Country’s 30th Boat Parade & Fireworks show a huge success
Lake Murray, SC (Paul Kirby) – Capital City Lake Murray Country, the regional tourism district tasked with promoting Lake Murray and all the areas around it, held its 30th annual 4th of July Boat Parade & Fireworks show Saturday. The weather was beautiful, and even though it was hot, once boaters made it onto the water, a nice breeze made it comfortable for everyone who took advantage of “The Jewel of South Carolina,” Lake Murray. Thirty years ago, Miriam Atria who is the area's biggest cheerleader, conceived this great celebration and it's been going strong ever since.
The boat parade judges all gathered aboard a beautiful houseboat at Lake Murray Marina and cast off about 11:15 a.m. heading for Bombing Range Island. As they approached that rallying point, the number of boats waiting made it immediately clear that a huge crowd had gathered there to both participate or just watch. At noon, the judging boat turned toward the dam and the parade boats, led by last year’s winners acting as the Grand Marshall, fell into line behind. The boats that were just watching followed along the 28 boats who had registered and were eligible for the four winning places and cash prizes. In all, the group was at least a half-mile long line of boats and boaters, all having a great time.
The theme this year was “Cheers for 30-years,” homage to the 30th anniversary of the event, and including that theme in the decorations of the boats being judged was very important. Of course, the more red, white, and blue that a boat’s decorations had, the better they scored. The captain and crew also needed to be enthusiastic, but that didn’t seem to be a problem. Everyone was yelling, waving, and generally letting it be known that they loved Lake Murray and being a part of the day.
As the parade moved across the dam, the judge’s boat stopped and each of the entrant’s boats passed for viewing. Here’s where the crews really got involved; horns blowing, waving, shouting, and in one case having a beautiful little girl pop out of a 4th of July present in the form of a decorated box in the bow. One boat had so many flags flying that you almost missed the live eagle mascot that was waving with enthusiasm in the bow. They also eventually spewed a trail of red, white, and blue smoke that was amazing. The judges were looking for the theme as a key point, and several really stood out. The winner’s boat had blown up Champagne bottles all over it, photos of President Donald Trump and his family, a Make America Great Again banner down each side, and a huge thatched roof draped across its Bimini top that looked strikingly like the president’s hair! Others had huge Margarita glasses complete with olives in each.
When all was said and done, there were four that stood out as boats who fit the theme and all the other judging criteria. They were:
1st Place - Lou & Bill Kennedy
2nd Place - Robyn King
3rd Place - Missy Lawhorne
4th Place - Leslie Bundrick
Afterward, thousands enjoyed the lake and waited for darkness to fall. Once it got dark, the fireworks began. From both ends of the lake, there were 30-minutes of professional fireworks in honor of the 30th year of the show and celebration. It was choreographed with music that could be tuned in on the radio to make the show even better.
Each year for the past 30, Miriam Atria and her staff at Capital City Lake Murray Country have worked tirelessly to put this on for the many who’ve seen and enjoyed it. Their work brings smiles to the face of so many, but just as importantly, they bring tourist here who support our economy with their spending. They have a huge impact on our area and its economy. Hopefully, they will continue for another 30-years.
If you haven’t had the opportunity, stop by the Capital City Lake Murray Country visitor’s center, museum, and gift shop, and offices at 2184 N Lake Dr, Columbia, SC. It’s just on the Irmo / Chapin side of the Lake Murray dam.