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Boaters steer Trump 'parade' through Chain O' Lakes

More than 900 boats on Sunday traveled from the Stratton Lock and Dam in McHenry and across the Chain O’ Lakes in a show of support for President Donald Trump.

The display was one of several that took place throughout the country over the Labor Day weekend. Trump, who has publicly celebrated the “beautiful boaters” among his fanbase, retweeted several videos of boat parades in Florida and California as they unfolded.

Lake County’s boat parade was organized by members of the Chain O’ Lake Trump Supporters Facebook group, in support of Trump’s re-election, said one of the group’s members, Joe Whitely.

“Most of the usual events like fireworks displays were canceled due to COVID-19. This was not only a display to support Trump but a display of patriotism,” Whitely said in an email Tuesday. “The smiles on the faces of people proved this. Regardless of what party we support, we are Americans and this is our home. This more than anything was displayed last Sunday.”

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office’s marine unit monitored Sunday’s parade as it passed through the area, said the Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, Sgt. Christopher Covelli.

The route led boaters through Pistakee Lake, Nippersink Lake, Grass Lake, Lake Marie, Bluff Lake, Fox Lake and Petite Lake, according to an event flyer.

“We encouraged people without boats to patronize local businesses along the Fox River and the Chain O’ Lakes,” Whitely said. “Those without boats stood at those businesses and major roadway overpasses.”

Photos and videos of the parade showed lakeside crowds cheering as fleets of boats and personal watercraft passed. Traditional American flags, as well as thin blue and red line flags in support of law enforcement and firefighters adorned boats as they made their way through the Chain O’ Lakes on Sunday, photos show.

Similar demonstrations in other states resulted in multiple sunken ships or capsized boats, according to news reports. Those who attended Lake County’s boat parade, however, were advised to travel between 15 and 20 mph, according to an event flyer.

No issues or problems were reported, Covelli said.

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