For a while it seemed like the only boat that would be joining the Warwick Pond Parade line was the pontoon boat that had the official banner hanging off the side of it, which was strung up with string provided by Friends of Warwick Ponds Coordinator Philip D’Ercole and secured by a quick couple of knots from Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey and boat pilot Rob Farnzen.
The crew remained the only living souls out on the serene, sparkling waters of Warwick Pond under the heat of a sunny Sunday afternoon even after Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon climbed aboard. The mayor was prepared, he noted jokingly, beckoning to the baseball cap covering his head – no top of the head sunburns for him today. He would later joke that a woman from the shore kicking her feet in the water couldn’t recognize him without seeing the shiny glare from atop his head.
Finally, as the self-described “redneck” boat belonging to Farnzen – a resident of Edgehill Road with a house, like many of his fellow Warwick Pond neighbors, directly on the waters of the pond – sputtered its two-stroke engine around the circumference of the large freshwater body, other naval neighbors did fall in line.
The crowd consisted of another pontoon boat, a family vessel that provided safe ferry for a small dog, a few kayaks and a couple other nautical craft. The boats all settled towards the middle of the pond and gathered around for D’Ercole to give a speech, lashing together with bungee cords and thin ropes to create a small flotilla.
“The beauty of this pond, the beauty of the water serves to show how important it is to preserve it,” D’Ercole told the crowd from the front of the pontoon boat, as Doug Clark taped it on his phone to post on Facebook later. “We are working tirelessly to preserve this for future generations.
Then, once D’Ercole had introduced his “celebrity” shipmates, Solomon stepped forward, indicating he planned on using “an even bigger stick” and to work with McCaffrey and other state officials to “keep these resources pristine so we can enjoy them and we can leave them for future generations.”
Indeed, that is the whole point of the Warwick Pond Parade (this one being the third annual) – to gather advocates together on the local resource that the Friends of Warwick Pond organize to protect and preserve.
D’Ercole mentioned that there are about 60 different points of drainage which flow directly into Warwick Pond, and is hopeful that the city will be amiable to a tentative plan to implement a multi-year plan to clean out or filter some of the catch basins which feed into the pond.
“We have our work cut out for us,” D’Ercole said.
As recently as last summer, concerns over an abundance of cytobacteria – microscopic species of algae-like blooms which can be harmful to people and pets if swallowed within the water – made waves among the conservationists around Warwick Pond. The bacteria luckily hasn’t reared its head this summer, and the water remained very clear Sunday afternoon.
Prior to heading out on the boat, D’Ercole showed off the ground floor and second story of his home, just a few doors down from Farnzen. Both levels feature beautiful open-air decks that look out onto the pond – a view that some would pay big bucks to have just for the summer, let alone all year long.
“Now you understand why we do it,” D’Ercole said.
On Sunday, Solomon came to the same understanding. It was his first time out on the water of Warwick Pond, and he soaked up the view like his hat soaked up the rays of the sun.