GROTON -- "Happy Fifth!" shouted a group of residents as they waved from shore. Elsewhere, the greeting was repeated as waterfront homeowners stood on empty docks or balconies that overhung the water or simply sat in lounge chairs sipping drinks and soaking up sunshine.

The greetings drifted across the choppy blue waters of Lost Lake on Saturday as a long trail of gaily decorated boats churned frothy wakes in a loose promenade beneath a cloudless blue sky.

The occasion was the revival of the Fourth of July Lost Lake Flotilla which had once been a tradition on the lakes but for reasons forgotten, had fallen by the wayside.

When asked why it was decided to revive the tradition which had lapsed in 2009 after many years, Art Prest, president of the Groton Lakes Association, said it they had no choice following some difficult months for lake residents.

"We'd been working too hard and we needed to have some fun," explained Prest.

And fun was the name of the game as speedboats, pontoon boats, runabouts, and even a kayak and canoe or two steamed and paddled toward the rendezvous point off Sargisson Beach in Knops Pond.

With their boats decorated in red, white, and blue bunting, flags big and small, hats and garlands, participants saluted each other with voices that echoed across the water and a loose formation was somehow organized.


As if acting the part of a starting gun, a speedboat blasted by pulling behind it a pair of water skiers each holding American flags that snapped in the breeze.

From a pontoon boat filled with children, the Monkees' "I'm a Believer" blared from a CD player.

Then engines were revved up and a loose column was formed and the flotilla moved out led by one boat with Captain America at the wheel.

Standing as erect as the Statue of Liberty, the star-spangled Avenger snapped a salute and proceeded to preside over the Independence Day event.

For over an hour, the line of 20-plus boats cruised along the shores of Lost Lake and Knops Pond picking up more as they proceeded while acknowledging the shouts of greeting from bystanders and returning waves.

The waters of the lake were more alluring than they have been for many a summer due to the success of a weed-clearing operation that included the use of chemicals where a mechanical weed harvester had failed.

Where only a year before, boats had to travel from local docks along channels cleared through the choking weeds, now nearly the entire surface of Lost Lake and Knops Pond was clear, open, and blue with boaters unafraid of getting propellers tangled in the long, stringy weeds.

Moreover, according to Prest, the state keeps the lakes stocked with fish and their reputation as outstanding areas for trout and bass fishing has been spreading rapidly.

"The fishing is phenomenal," Prest said from behind the wheel of his own runabout.

"I thought it was a big success," summed up Prest, who played a key role in organizing the flotilla.