Lake St. John Flotilla

THE FLAG will waive at family gatherings, the Fourth of July Festival in Vidalia and the Lake St. John Flotilla (above) during a long holiday weekend. (Concordia Sentinel photo)

Flotilla 2019 is a celebration of 27 years of Flotilla festivities. The first flotilla was a small, spontaneous event that grew to become a grand extravaganza, with bigger boats and cash prizes.

The flotilla is a celebration of survival, like the spirit of Lake St. John and Concordia Parish. The residents of the lake and Concordia Parish have survived floods: 1927, 2011 and 2019 especially, the boll weevil, wars, fluctuations in the old industry and agriculture, polities, low water, high water; but, through it all, the residents of the Lake and Concordia Parish have retained their belief in God, their country, and the fact that Lake St. John is the greatest place in the whole world to live and raise a family.

Lake St. John has always been a close-knit community, but now, thanks to modern technology and Milton Rawles and friends, we are linked by daily email. Thanks also to the Lake Shore Baptist Church's generous donation of their former church building, we have a Community Center, where aerobics are held during the week, and "pot luck" suppers are held several times during the year. The lake has an official commission that meets several times a year to oversee the Water and Conversation District.

Richard Prescott, 2019 Flotilla Grand Marshal, was raised in Natchez and lake St. John was his summer playground. He and his friends played, swam and water-skied on the lake all summer. After graduating from Northwestern in Natchitoches, Richard traveled in the oil and gas business, but being married to a Natchez lady, Patti Williams Prescott, they brought children to the lake. They built a house eight years ago on the lake and now the four grandchildren love spending weekends on the lake. Richard and family have participated in flotilla and won prizes for Bat Man float and Tribute to Marines.

Richard became involved in the first lake St. John clean-up five years ago and now is one of the organizers of the event. He was surprised and honored to be chosen Grand Marshall and also loves the 4th of July weekend event because it celebrates, Faith, Freedom and the U.S. Military because two of their sons are veterans.

The flotilla started in the 1990s when a group of full-time and part-time lake residents decided the neighborhood needed to celebrate and borrowed the tradition of blessing the shrimp boats in South Louisiana to ensure safe sailing and a good harvest. A flotilla committee, led in part by Donna Maroon for years, was formed. The queen, for instance, had to be over the age of 40 and have a direct connection to the lake. The event would always be the first Saturday in July - a 4th of July celebration. The Steckler family of Natchez offered up their pier from the beginning due to its location in the center of the lake and it's height. This year, 2019, we celebrate 27 years of festivities on lake St. John.

Richard Prescott is the newest Grand Marshal in an illustrious list of Lake St. John Queens, Kings and Grand Marshalls. Included are a few: 1999, Grand Marshall Pat Burns and Flotilla Queen, Claire Maxwell, Flotilla 2000, Queen Norma Jean Price and Grand Marshall Clyde Ray Webber. The list continues with Flotilla 2001, Queen Betty Loomis and Grand Marshall Victor Cross; 2002, Grand Marshall Tom Bell and Queens (sisters) Gwen Huff Webber and Patsy Huff Newman; 2003, King and Queen Bob and Ruth Chennault, Grand Marshall Bryant Hammett.

2004, King and Queen Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Bender, Grand Marshal Noble Ellington; 2005, Grand Marshal Al Ater and King William Coleman and Queen Penny Hammett; 2006, King Bobby Marks and daughter Lisa Marks as Queen; 2007, King Richard Alwood and Queen Donna Maroon and Grand Marshall Rep. Andy Anders; 2008, Kay Killen Taylor and Randi Nettles also served as queen.

The list is incomplete for a number of years but Flotilla 2014 was Grand Marshall Dave "Roscoe on the Radio" Kimbro; 2015, Grand Marshalls The Fudickar Family; 2016, Milton and Mary Catherine Rawles, Monelle Moseley was Grand Marshall one year along with 2017, Gena Garrity;  2018, Dave Pace and 2019 Richard Prescott.

Lake St. John is a 2,100 acre Mississippi River oxbow lake which is relatively shallow, with most of the water less than 20 feet deep.

Lake St. John and Lake Concordia were formed by the restless Mississippi River which has changed course, constantly moving all over the region. Lake St. John, Lake St. Joseph and Lake St. Peter were named by a Jesuit missionary priest, Father Penicaunt. Lake St. John before the Civil War, was surrounded by cotton plantations, and on this century, has been a lovely, peaceful getaway for the citizens of Natchez, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Lake St. John is a very special place for the residents of the Miss-Lou, where they learned to swim and ski, dance, play cards, sleep away lazy afternoons in a hammock, and catch those big fish. Residents of Lake St. John agree there is a special way of life, living on the lake."

Clerk of Court Clyde Ray Herman Webber quotes Dr. Herman Gibson as saying, "My blood pressure drops 10 points every time I sit on the porch and look out at the lake."

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