BELGRADE — Seven-year-old Alyssa Crotty waited patiently behind her brightly decorated lemonade stand, ready to quench a passer-by’s thirst for just a quarter, but the weather was less than cooperative. The clouds and a gentle breeze conspired to cool the crowds that streamed up and down Main Street on Wednesday.

Crotty just shook her head when asked about sales. Her father, Kevin Crotty, took up the explanation. Business was certainly not slow for lack of preparation or the endearing smile of the diminutive proprietor behind the table.

“They’d probably be thirsty if it was sunnier,” her father said. “I think it will be better later on.”

Indeed, early clouds and sprinkles gave a sluggish start to the town’s Fourth of July festivities, according to John Garofalo, who helped organize this year’s hot dog cookout outside the Union Church.

“It was a little slow this morning because of the weather,” Garofalo said. “It picked up around noon.”

Communities around the region marked the nation’s 237th Independence Day with a host of activities, including Winthrop’s Friends of the Fourth 5K, which attracted nearly 700 people to an early-morning run.

Augusta, meanwhile, was slated to kick off events with its annual parade at 4 p.m., followed by a carnival featuring rides, food and games at the Maine State Housing Authority parking lot off Water Street.

Those who planned to take in fireworks shows throughout the state were keeping a watchful eye on the sky, as weather forecasters hinted at possible thunderstorms. Those forecasts did little to dampen the enthusiasm of shoppers who streamed into fireworks stores in Monmouth and Manchester with plans to create their own legal displays for the first time in decades.

“Really, the Fourth of July is the unofficial start of summer,” Garofalo said.

If that’s true, then one of Belgrade’s first summer celebrations was the annual boat parade that trolled Mill Stream in Belgrade Lakes village. Hundreds of spectators gathered for the spectacle. Some arrived in boats, but most stayed on land, including a large gathering on the Route 27 bridge.

Dozens of spectators took advantage of the park outside the new Maine Lakes Resource Center. Liz Heumann and her family relaxed on one of the few boats and kayaks tied up at the center’s docks to watch the parade.

“We’re all delighted the docks are open again,” she said.

The past three generations of Heumann’s family have spent summers on Great Pond. The town’s Fourth of July celebration is a hallmark of all those summers, and the boat parade is a Fourth favorite.

“That and the loon-calling contest,” she said, smiling.

Dozens of boats took part in this year’s parade, from canoes pushed by small trolling motors to vintage cabin cruisers, most of which were decked out in stars and stripes and other nods to Americana.

One of those floating floats, the Liberty, from Rome, was shadowed by a small remote-control vessel modeled after a Chris Craft that darted around other parade boats to the delight of spectators on the shore.

Others preferred the more risqué, such as one woman who wore a long T-shirt painted to create the illusion of a bombshell wearing a revealing, star-spangled bikini. She danced on deck, and spectators roared their approval as she passed by.

With water in no short supply, the revelers on one party boat tossed water balloons and used squirt guns to douse spectators.

For Heumann, it all signified another happy Fourth of July and another joyous summer on Great Pond.

“In my 65 years, I’ve never missed a summer on the lake,” she said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

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