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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Monday, December 5, 2011

Deck the decks for the annual Beaches Christmas Boat Parade

   We Floridians don't have the Christmas card look of the holiday, so we must make do without snow, fir trees, frozen ponds and all the other traditional accoutrement.
What we do have is water, lots of water, boats, and mild temperatures.   Never underestimate the creativity of Florida and the desire to celebrate.  Someone came up with the idea of decorating boats and floating them in a parade down the river.  Just as in a street parade prizes are given for the best decorations and Santa and sometimes his reindeer are one of the main events.
      The City of Jacksonville has a fabulous boat parade during the weekend after Thanksgiving. It ends with fireworks and lights steaming like a waterfall off the Main Street Bridge.  Not to be outdone, the beaches have a boat parade as well.  It travels up the Intracoastal Waterway after dark and onlookers from the waterfront restaurants and houses along the route come out to see and cheer.
      The Beaches Christmas Boat Parade was the first Saturday in December.  We viewed it from the dock at Lulu's Grille, a popular restaurant so close to the water it is practically in it.  Cars filled Lulu's parking lot and lined A1A on both sides for a long way.  We had dinner there on the outside patio and so had a ringside seat.  It took the parade a long time to reach us, but no one seemed to mind.  The wine and beer were flowing, the night was beautiful with many stars and a bright moon right overhead.  It was a perfect night for a parade.  
     These parades are not silent.  The crowd cheers, people on the boats sing, play music and blow very loud boat horns.  It is all quite festive.  Here are photos of some of the boats and the ending photo is a short video that includes some of that sound.  (Sorry, it has some fingers in it too.)
    It's not religious, it's not snowy or icy, but to us it is Christmasy and fun:

Decorated to look like a sleigh, this was the first boat in the lineup.

There were several sailboats and this blue and white was one of the prettiest.

Santa's reindeer are represented on this colorful boat.  Santa is there somewhere.

What's a boat parade without a duckie.

Another sailboat is decorated like a candy cane.

Lulu's deck is right on the water.

Lulu's provided music on the patio with a firepit on a separate part of the patio.


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