Gills Rock’s Boat Parade Is a Local Secret

But maybe not for long

Because of its remote location at the tip of the peninsula, Gills Rock isn’t the most popular tourist destination for visitors on Independence Day. That makes its annual boat parade something of a local secret, said Door County North’s community coordinator, Mickie Rasch. 

Held annually at Hedgehog Harbor, the parade is an opportunity for some residents to show off their new boats to the community. Others show off their speed, making wakes while they zip across the water, and still others show off their decorating ability, adorning their boats with patriotic lights and streamers. The Island Clipper, a tour boat, often makes an appearance, too. 

Although the parade involves only 10 or so boats, according to Rasch, it’s such a popular event that locals know to stake out their spots in advance so they have a good view. Among the best spots to watch the boat parade is Mariner’s Park or along the public shoreline around the harbor. 

After the parade, people stay put to watch the fireworks, which begin at dusk. The location of Gills Rock also allows fireworks viewers to see displays in the distance from multiple towns down the peninsula. 

Interested in adding your boat to the parade? Any motorboat may participate. Boats launch from the Leaderboard Fishing Dock and line up at the bluff going toward Washington Island, which is also called Middle Bluff. If no parking is available, go north on Highway 42 until you reach a field full of trailers across from the Maritime Museum. Get additional information by calling 920.854.4450 or emailing [email protected].