For Yvonne Greene, that meant riding on “Sweet Summer Thyme,” her sister Jackie Flowers’ entry in the Parade of Barges at the 10th annual Barge Bash in Hancock.
“I never paint my fingernails, and look at them,” Greene said Saturday after riding in the balloon-lined barge on a rewatered section of the C&O Canal.
The red nail polish on her fingertips complemented the red dress and buoyant, bow-shaped hair piece that Greene donned for the parade, which is the centerpiece of the community’s heritage celebration.
Dubbed “The Great National Project” by President John Quincy Adams in 1828, the C&O Canal was open for navigation near Hancock by 1839, according to the National Park Service.
Declared a national historical park in 1971, the canal ceased to operate in 1924, but “barge” traffic is permitted one day each year for the celebration by the National Park Service, which sponsors the event with the Hancock Arts Council.
The eight barges entered Saturday were actually small boats decorated as parade floats. The floats could not be mechanized and had to be pulled by manpower or with animals.
“I think we’ve cornered the market on barge parades,” Arts Council chairman Sinclair Hamilton said of the unique event.
Flowers’ float, which featured colorful balloons and a large cherry-topped cupcake in foil and other sweet goodies, was deemed by judges to be the “most colorful and most delicious” entry, Hamilton announced to the crowd, which lined the banks of the canal for the procession of floats.
The “Floating Elvises” float, captained by Hancock Mayor Dan Murphy, was the People’s Choice Award winner.
Murphy’s prize was an unplayable guitar that artist Mike Kligerman painted with white flowers with long green stems on the body that proclaimed it to be the “People’s Choice Award.”
Other gag gift-like prizes, which Kligerman took the lead in compiling for the parade, included a wooden shoe and a wooden fish.
Philip Clifford’s barge “Stink bugs” was deemed the scariest and most eco-friendly float by the judges.
“You try to do something nobody’s done before,” Clifford said of his entries in the last three years.
Clifford said he bought a sewing machine and used a large photograph of the brown marmorated stink bug to develop a pattern and then sewed colorful, beaded versions of the loathed insect on the yellow sails of his float.
His mother, Kathy Clifford, made T-shirts commemorating Saturday’s festival that depicted the insects on the back and asked what all the stink is about.
A member of the arts council, Clifford said the stink bug theme seemed to be an “obvious” choice given the recent insects’ arrival to Hancock within the last few years.
Last year, Clifford said his barge theme was “flying fish.”