BRANFORD — If there is fair weather starting at 11 a.m., Sept. 26, folks may see all manner of boats flying Trump and Blue Lives Matter flags while cruising on the Branford River and off Branford Point.
In case of rain, the flotilla will take place same time on Sept. 27.
Branford resident Todd Petrowski, organizer of the Boaters for Trump and Blue Lives Matter Boat Parade Branford, hopes there will be more than a couple of hundred watercraft in Branford Harbor, when they are set to rendezvous at 10:30 a.m.
Boats of all sizes and makes — power boats, yachts, day sailers, kayaks and even dinghies are welcome, Petrowski said, and noted there is a free boat launch in the Branford River at Goodsell Point Road. Gas is available at two docks on the river.
Petrowski, who is not a boat owner, will participate on a friend’s vessel, a 27-foot fishing boat.
He also is advising participants to make sure they have the required life vests and flotation devices as well as horns, whistles and flares onboard. And he strongly urges participants with the larger powerful boats to be mindful of creating wakes that could cause harm to smaller vessels.
“We hope everyone stays safe this is our first priority and we want to be in compliance with the Coast Guard and local authorities,” he said.
And while the Trump 2020 flags will fly, Petrowski stresses the event is not all about politics.
The parade is meant to be “a showing of support for our president and police in Branford and East Haven. Having a nice nonviolent get-together.”
Democrat Selectman Ray Dunbar, a former Branford police officer of 34 years who retired as a captain, commented, “Everyone has the right to support their candidate and I hope the boat parade is peaceful and safe.”
Dunbar noted, “Personally, I’ll be supporting Joe Biden who has the leadership and experience we need to effectively respond to COVID-19 and build back our economy.”
Boaters who just want to get out on the water can join and do not have to display Trump or Blue Lives Matter flags, he added.
“It’s something to do — to give back to the community,” Petrowski said about the idea to hold this event in town. “With the COVID we lost the (Branford) Festival, the fireworks, graduation.”
The boat parade, he said, is “an event anyone can participate in.”
The Branford boat procession follows two others in Connecticut in Stratford and in Mystic earlier this month, which drew several hundred boaters each.
And Petrowski noted that many in town do not support Trump, although the town government leans Republican.
“We’re not looking to fight with people,” he said.
“There’s people that don’t like him,” he said, adding that anti-Trump spectators can come out to show support for the police instead.
“Branford is a small, local community — how could you not support the local police department? They should be recognized and not getting a bad rap,” Petrowski said.
The flotilla will start at Branford Point and sail into New Haven Harbor, past the sea wall at Morris Cove, past Long Wharf and as far as West Haven.