Betty Lou and Elgin Nininger were chosen as this year’s Grand Marshalls of the 62nd Annual Potomac River Festival’s Boat Parade by the Colonial Yacht Club that sponsors the parade. The parade theme “Potomac River Bounty” aptly sums up the Niningers’ contribution to the Colonial Beach area.
Betty Lou and Elgin met on a blind date in 1961 at a King George High School play “Maudi and The Opposite Sex” in which Betty Lou had the female lead. While Elgin jokes that Betty Lou sent him the tickets, she swears that is not true. Either way, their fate was sealed as they spent the next 18 months of courtship together every night except two – and Elgin says those two were rockfish-related.
Elgin’s life has been the river. He went to the Augusta Military Academy and UVA, but throughout his schooling he was crabbing. More than anything he wanted to be on the river. He was first selling his crabs to Miller’s Crabshore, and on the day the couple’s first child was born he brought in 50 bushels of crabs. He sold crabs to Denny Connor at Reno and Aqualand and to Captain Billy at Roberson’s. Industrious Betty Lou didn’t want to continue working at Dahlgren after their son was born, so she would cook the smaller crabs that the buyers didn’t want in a fire pit under the shade trees that still stand by their pier. That’s how Shady Lane Seafood got its name. She set up a sign in the yard of the old house and sold crabs for $1.05 a dozen including tax. Her customers began asking for large crabs, so she became Elgin’s sole buyer to meet the market demand. The Shady Lane store now sits in the spot where that old house was, and they are proud that their second son, Dean, runs it just as successfully as they did. Elgin still works the water crabbing and fishing with gill, fyke and haul seine nets. He also serves on the Potomac River Fisheries Commission Crab Advisory Committee.
We are all grateful for their meeting which resulted in a bedrock business Shady Lane Seafood which has supplied the region with a bounty of delicious seafood for over 51 years.
The Boat Parade will be held on Sunday, June 9 at 1 p.m. The best viewing is from the Town Pier where announcer, Gordon Tulloss, will introduce each vessel. Parade leaders include the US Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Police, Colonial Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department, and US Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Grand Marshalls will ride aboard the Colonial Yacht Club Commodore’s GEDDES V.
As is the tradition following the Boat Parade, all participants will gather their boats around the Town Pier for the Blessing of The Fleet by Father Ron Okransinski.
Awards will be presented after the parade on the outside deck of Dockside Restaurant at 4 p.m.
Every type of watercraft is welcome to participate including personal watercraft, runabouts, sailboats, cruisers, yachts and workboats. Registration is free and forms are available at Beach Service Center or CBYC. Pick up your numbers at Dockside Restaurant on Friday June 7 or Saturday June 8 from 6-8 p.m. For more information, call Richard Racine 804-224-1932 or CBYC 804-224-7230.