ELKHART — The annual Fourth of July Flotilla on the St. Joseph River saw fewer attendees than usual this year but attracted a vibrant crowd nonetheless.

Judges and the public boarded the Elkhart River Queen and sailed up to Six Span Bridge. The cruise liner then led several decorated pontoons downstream to Martin’s Landing where prizes were awarded.

The annual flotilla began in 1976, during the city’s celebration of the national bicentennial. 

“It’s an opportunity for those who live on the Upper St. Joe or those who keep their boats near Six Span to decorate their boat in a patriotic theme or whatever theme they choose,” committee member Andy Jones said.

This year’s theme was “Use Your Imagination.”

Prizes were awarded for first, second, third and fourth place, as well as most patriotic and best vintage. There was also a write-in category.

“It’s an environmentally friendly way to enjoy the Upper St. Joe River,” Jones said.

This year, first place went to a Las Vegas-themed float, second went to the Humane Society, third went to the Trump Train and fourth to the “Happy Days”-themed float. Wray’s Ice Cream received the award for best Vintage Float and Fort Bristol received the title of Most Patriotic.

In total eight boats competed. Others enjoyed the water along the shoreline and in boats of their own.

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