A July 4 tradition for more than 50 years now, the Lake Sallie Boat Parade brought out lakeshore residents in droves Saturday morning, to watch a variety of red, white and blue-festooned boats make their slow journey around the lake.

Music could be heard wafting over the water as well, with the boats' music systems blasting everything from Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" to Dolly Parton's "Nine to Five," along with Miley Cyrus's "Party in the USA" and a handful of other patriotic favorites.

"There were 17 boats," said Mike Becraft, president of the Lakes Melissa-Sallie Improvement Association, whose wife Carolyn was in charge of distributing trophies to the winners for the parade's best-decorated boat as well as the best lakeshore decorations. "I think that may be the most we've ever had."

Carolyn noted that the names of the winners for each year's parade were engraved in the trophies after the victors had the opportunity to show off their spoils for a few days after the event; the trophies were dropped off at the winners' lake home immediately after the parade, then picked up a few days later for the engraving, at Trophy House in Detroit Lakes.

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These are the trophies that are given out to the winners for best shore decorations (at left) and best boat decorations in the annual July 4 Boat Parade on Lake Sallie. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
These are the trophies that are given out to the winners for best shore decorations (at left) and best boat decorations in the annual July 4 Boat Parade on Lake Sallie. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

"When the plaque is full (of names), we just flip it over," she said, showing how names can be engraved on both sides of the two trophies.

Carolyn added that there were two families on the lake, the Okesons and the Michaelsons, who tended to dominate the boat parade competition from year to year, though their names were not the only ones engraved on the trophy. This fact was illustrated by the judges' final decision, which was a tie between the two families until the deciding vote gave the 2020 victory to the Okesons.

The Okeson Crew and their flag-festooned "bathtub," complete with balloon bubbles and a "shower" made out of silver streamers, were the winners of the Lake Sallie Boat Parade on Saturday, July 4. They narrowly edged out their rivals, the Michaelson Crew, with their Grand Old Opry entry. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
The Okeson Crew and their flag-festooned "bathtub," complete with balloon bubbles and a "shower" made out of silver streamers, were the winners of the Lake Sallie Boat Parade on Saturday, July 4. They narrowly edged out their rivals, the Michaelson Crew, with their Grand Old Opry entry. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Their entry, a boat transformed into a giant bathtub complete with soap bubbles, rubber duckies, and even a "shower" made out of silver streamers, barely edged out the Michaelsons' "Grand Ol' Opry" theme, which included a giant guitar and music from some of country music's greatest legends (such as the aforementioned Dolly Parton).

The Michaelson Crew and their Grand Ole Opry-themed float were narrowly beaten by their rivals, the Okesons, for the trophy in this year's July 4 Boat Parade on Lake Sallie, south of Detroit Lakes. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
The Michaelson Crew and their Grand Ole Opry-themed float were narrowly beaten by their rivals, the Okesons, for the trophy in this year's July 4 Boat Parade on Lake Sallie, south of Detroit Lakes. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

The winners of the shore decoration contest were the Lensmaier family and their "Miss Lake Sallie 2020" theme, according to Mike Becraft.

Boat parades have been a July 4 tradition on many Becker County lakes since the early 1900s, though some lake associations, such as Floyd Lakes, opted to skip this year's parade because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Becraft, however, said the Melissa-Sallie Association opted to hold the parades on both lakes this year because they felt the boats would be able to maintain enough distance from each other, and residents watching from the shore, to minimize the risk.