Baby, it’s cold outside – Let’s go holiday boating!
What better way than to celebrate the holidays with a boat parade. Boat parades can be found anywhere from San Francisco, CA to Ft Lauderdale, FL to Charleston, SC, and anywhere there is water in between. Boat parades may vary in size and grandeur. The one thing in common is the decorating with lights, sense of community, and joy that they bring.
History of Boat Parades
Most people agree that the first official boat parade happened at the turn of the century in Newport Beach, CA. A former gondolier from Italy and a developer named it the Tournament of Lights. It had its fits and starts. This trendy event snowballed (pun intended) to include firework battles which led to rescues. Today extravagant events surrounding boat parades are sponsored by the local municipality. There are still water communities and clubs that host parades as well.
Whether you are participating or a spectator – holiday events on the water are for everyone. Admire the decorated boats and wave at the various characters, including Santa! Even if you can’t be in the parade – just watching is full of excitement and cheer. There are several ways to be a spectator. Set chairs or a blanket upon a dock or a public spot along the water. May a holiday picnic with a thermos full of hot chocolate. Use a Candy cane as a stirrer. Find a waterfront restaurant where you can watch from their dock or the comfort of the warm indoors. In towns where boat parades are an event, some restaurants host large viewing parties and soirees surrounding the evening. If you are lucky enough to live on the waterways, consider throwing a viewing party. You can always find out where the “staging area” is for the boat parade. It is lovely to walk around chatting with the participants and soak up the merriment.
By Sea (or waterway…)
Boat parades come in all sizes, from a community with a few kayaks and small boats to a boat club with a variety of decorated fleets with prizes all the way up to a city-sponsored event with fireworks and carnivals. Check with your local sponsor or host for rules and regulations. Boat parades typically allow only one boat to have Santa on board. They may even be prizes handed out for “Best in Show” or “Most Creative.” Sometimes it may just be the honor bestowed; other times, local businesses sponsor prizes of gifts and even money.
Check with your local Carefree Boat Club for a list of local parades.