GOODLAND — The fishing village of Goodland has its own dance, the Buzzard Lope, associated with it, after years of Mullet Festivals at Stan’s. On Saturday, all the world’s other dances got equal opportunity to shine, at the 16th annual Goodland Boat Parade, with this year’s theme “the world of dance.” A total of 21 boats, ranging from Jet-Skis up to cabin cruisers, entered the event, cruising past the spectators who covered every available piece of waterfront, and packed all the local eating and drinking establishments.
Dances from the jitterbug to the hula, plus ballet, salsa, can-can, the Mexican hat dance, barn dancing, pole dancing and yes, the buzzard lope were represented, but the winning dance/boat was the “chicken dance” entered by Captain John Strathman of Fort Myers. The energetic yellow-costumed dancers on the bow, which sported a chicken beak figurehead, did an enthusiastic chicken dance, prompting some of those watching from shore to spontaneously join in.
Many of the dancers were more scantily clothed. In a striking test of the bikini/beach principle, which holds that anyone in a tan and a two-piece looks good from a distance of 50 yards, not all of the dancers shakin’ it in their bikinis aboard the passing crafts were females. As the boats in the parade drew nearer, beer bellies – okay, some of those were female – hairy legs and chin whiskers outed the gender-bending costumes. I’m looking at you, Dan Rickey, captain of the “Hula Dance” boat from Fort Myers.
“You notice, the smaller boats have the louder sound,” said John Cesario at the Old Marco Lodge, awarding more points in his own personal judging to those with “kick-ass” sound systems. He was impressed with the “Salsa Dance” boat of John and Lauren Ritchie of Newmanstown, Pa., which housed a generator on deck to belt out “Hot, Hot, Hot.” “We’re voting for the peppers – a little boat with a big sound.”
“The women are voting for those guys in the Speedos,” said Myrna O’Reilly, eyeing the male crew of local captain Jim Seegers’ “Can Can” boat. “Shake those booties. Old ladies like the young boys.”
In the official scoring, after the Chicken Dance, second place went to local John Ritchie of Goodland, for his “Pole Dance/Lap Dance” entry, and third was awarded to Captain Rob Reiley of Marco, for his “Swing Dance Party at the USO.” There was another parade, too, of cars in and out of Goodland.
“Did you see the parade of cars coming in here?” asked Rita Meyer. “I don’t think there’s anyone left on Marco Island.” Parking spots were at a premium, with locals charging $10 per car, and a line of vehicles stretching most of the way back to Route 92 from downtown Goodland.
“It’s really grown. I remember the first parade, back around 2000,” said Dennis Candeln, although he may have been off by a couple of years. “It was just Stan, and a few people from the Little Bar.”
The parade now has a charity beneficiary, Avow Hospice, who had a boat making the rounds selling hats and t-shirts between parade entries. To learn more about the organization, or make a post-parade donation, go to www.avowhospice.org.