BLACK OAK LAKE INDEPENDENCE DAY PARADE
Since 1976 the Black Oak Boat Parade has been held on the Fourth of July. The schedule is simple – Four on the Fourth. Boats form up in no particular order in front of the public beach at 4pm on July 4th regardless of the day of the week. An odd number of judges (usually 5) are placed around the lake or are possibly even in the parade itself on non-competing boats. The locations and identities of these judges are unknown to the competitors. The parade progresses counter-clockwise, i.e. up the east shore first, at the speed of the slowest boat. The complete circuit takes about one hour.
There are two classes of competition – Pontoon Boats and Non-Pontoon Boats. A competitive entry may employ more than one boat. If any of the boats in an entry is a pontoon boat that entry will be judged in the pontoon boat class even if the pontoon boat is being towed. There shall be no pre-announced theme so as to allow entrants maximum flexibility in demonstrating their creativity. To be judged an entry must fly an American flag of any size somewhere on each of its boats and must complete the entire lake circuit. Non competing boats can enter or leave the parade at any point.
Judges will rank the entries as first, second, and third in each of the two classes. Appropriate traveling trophies are awarded to the first place finishers and second and third place plaques go to the other places.
The parade organizer (currently Walt Bates) appoints the judges and collects their votes. He has the plaques on the first place trophies engraved according to the wishes of the respective winners and presents the awards at the annual picnic though their names are released as soon as votes are tabulated.