Last weekend 'Tween Waters Resort on Captiva held their Christmas tree lightning and, from the large turnout, one might think it was the premier event that kicks off the season. Those that think that way would be wrong, way wrong!
This coming Saturday is the premier event that kicks off the season of Christmas preparations and it's happening on Fort Myers Beach. It's a great time for the locals and visitors alike at the 22nd annual Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade. It Mostly locals will participate because many of the snowbirds have flown back north for Christmas. Last year, it was madness in and around Salty Sam's Marina. Thousands, yes I think there were more than a thousand people around the area, and everyone really enjoyed themselves.
Imaginative boat captains decorate their boats for the two-hour tour parade. The route includes Matanzas Pass, Siesta Isles and Ostego Bay. They will be cheered along by viewers along the way. The Fish-Tale Marina sponsored boat will lead this year's parade with Santa and Mrs. Claus and three celebrity judges from NBC-2 on board.
The parade participants assemble near the mooring field and the parade leaves the mooring field in front of Salty Sam's Marina at 6:10 p.m. The flotilla heads northwest rounding the corner in front of Doc Fords and then Bonita Bills and under the sky bridge heading right side of channel in front of the Coast Guard Station. It continues to the entrance to Hurricane Bay into Siesta Isles Channels past Boardwalk Caper.
Sadly, it doesn't come up our dead end canal or passed 'The Pukin' Pelican,' but we'll take that matter up for next year's parade. The parade will travel towards Bowditch Point to Matanzas Pass passing Pink Shell Resort, Nervous Nellies, Matanzas Inn, Ostego Bay and finishing at Salty Sam's Marina for the Winners Circle Party between Parrot Key Caribbean Grill and Big Game.
Several member boats of our "Dead End Canal Yacht Club" will participate again this year. As I write this last weekend, they are busy stringing lights and attaching wreaths and mini-Christmas trees. They will carry dozens of the members who will wave and bask in the cheers of the viewers.
The best viewing is anywhere along the route. If you have a friend in the Menopause Manor, you are in luck because they go up and back the same route. There are viewing areas to vote for Peoples Choice, and you can place your vote for the best decorated boat.
Plan to visit your favorite viewing area for the 24th annual Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Sponsors invite your participation in judging this year's Boat Parade. Contact any of these fine establishments written above or the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce at 454-7500 for more information.
Looking for a great place to stay? You'll find it on the Greater Fort Myers Beach website. You don't have to be on a decorated boat to observe the parade from a boat. Just remember to have a designated driver doing the driving. Also, remember that the skippers aboard the decorated boats are night blind because of the light from the decorations. Some of those boats will have generators that put out a lot of juice. They will have lookouts but give them plenty of clearance. There will be many boats trailing the parade. Some of them will be boats from the "Dead End Canal Yacht Club" and they will know how far to stay away from the parade. We will all enjoy the 22nd annual boat parade either on the boats or from a vantage point at a sponsor's place. Make sure you fill out a People's Choice ballot because the skippers and crews work very hard to ready their boats. ?And for those who watch from ashore, make sure you have a designated driver or walk! Enjoy, enjoy and enjoy because this is a great event!
Oh yeah, the long range forecast says it will be mild, but take a sweater and light jacket. I'll have a Santa hat on and a red life jacket because I'll be on a club member's boat that is notorious for running aground.
Boatguy Ed is the manufacturer of the best bottom paint, www.supershipbottom.com. He is the past commodore of the "Dead End Canal Yacht Club" and an avid boater. Never try to buy him a drink!