Heartland Lighted Boat Parades – Quimby's Cruising Guide

Heartland Lighted Boat Parades

Nothing says Christmas like boating, right?

OK, we’ll admit that lighted boat parades aren’t as common in the Heartland as they are in, say, California, but that doesn’t keep some festive folks from adorning their boats with all kinds of twinkling regalia, donning ill-advised decorative sweaters and making merry for the enjoyment of spectators along the shoreline.

Some of these parades help fill up local food banks or collect toys for the less fortunate, while some are just for the pure fun of it. Following is a brief roundup of a few of the Christmas boat parades in our area.

So, mark your calendars, grab your blankets and hot chocolate, and get ready to put the “sea” back in holiday season.

Chattanooga Lighted Boat Parade

November 29

Approximately 40 boats participate in this longtime tradition held at Coolidge Park along the Tennessee River. The event kicks off at 7 p.m., with the parade participants sailing between the Walnut Street and Olgiati bridges.

During the parade, holiday music is played, food and drink concessions are available, and a live Nativity scene is on display. Following the parade, a fireworks finale signals the illumination of more than 130 downtown buildings, bridges and parks for the winter season.

This year, the Lighted Boat Parade will coincide with Chattanooga’s new Gifts That Give Hope event, so bring a donation or make a contribution to a cause in honor of a friend or loved one and receive an attractive card with a description of their charitable gift.

Pensacola Beach Lighted Boat Parade

December 6

Dozens of captains compete for prizes during a sparkling boat parade from Pensacola Beach Marina to Flounder’s Chowder House, starting at 6 p.m.

During the spectacle of decorated vessels sailing against a dark December sky, children can play in Santa’s Workshop at the Flounder’s landing site and celebrate to official arrival of St. Nick by water.

Light Up the Lake Christmas Celebration

December 7

A lighted boat parade is just one of the many attractions at this all-day festival held at the Lake Charles Civic Center along Lake Charles, La. Here, everyone can enjoy toys, games and activities at Santa’s Workshop — including a gingerbread house contest.

The evening ends with a spectacular lighted boat parade, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and makes two passes, followed by fireworks. Those who sit close to the end of the seawall might be lucky enough to catch candy and beads thrown from the vessels.

Lights on the Lake Boat Parade

December 7

Back for a second year after its inagural run in 2012, the Lights on the Lake parade starts at Pickwick Landing State Park in Counce, Tenn., and ends at Grand Harbor Marina. Boats will gather at The Circle at 5 p.m., with the lighted procession starting at 5:30.

Judges will be located at K Dock at Grand Harbor, where they will give out the $500 Captain’s Choice award for Best in Show. Afterward, a captain and crew party will rock the docks at Freddy T’s restaurant and beach club.

Carrabelle Boat Parade of Lights & Holiday on the Harbor

December 14

Marine Street will be glowing with lights, and the River Walk is the place for watching the decked out boat regatta. The boat parade will beging around 7 p.m., with winners and awards announced afterward at C-Quarters Marina.

Santa will be at the Pavilion on Marine Street from 5 to 7 p.m. Community groups will be selling festival food, and local vendors will have unique Christmas goodies and gifts. Stroll with old friends, make some new ones, sip cider and see Carrabelle’s Cris Cringle at this fun family event.

Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake

December 14

Ring in the holidays with this Clear Lake, Texas, tradition. More than 100,000 people typically enjoy this event from land and from hundreds of boats anchored throughout the lake. The parade features more than 100 brightly decorated power and sailboats that will traverse the Clear Lake channel from the South Shore Harbour Marina and the Nassau Bay Lagoon to Galveston Bay.

Gulf Shores Lighted Boat Parade

December 14

The 28th edition of this annual tradition will start at Lulu’s restaurant at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores at 5:30 p.m. The shimmering procession will travel east down the Intracoastal Waterway Canal, pass The Wharf (public viewing area) and ending at Zeke’s Marina.

Onlookers may view the parade from any public area along Canal Road.

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