Santa on a surfboard, palm trees wrapped in lights, reindeer decorations made from palm fronds – and holiday boat parades, this is Christmas in Florida.
The annual Palm Coast Holiday Boat Parade is a favorite for those on land and sea, well—the Intracoastal – for an evening of lights on the water and shoreline parties. The Palm Coast Yacht Club has been hosting a boat parade for the past 30 years — with only one or two having to be cancelled due to weather, specifically thunderstorms and fog.
“It’s all about safety,” event Capt. Robert Ulis said. “The rules primarily focus on the safety of the people and the boats.”
The event has changed throughout the years. One change will be the absence of the “big ship” --The Sundancer. The yacht used for breakfast and dinner cruises, and a regular entry in the parade, was sold recently, and will not be in this year’s parade.
“This started out a very formal event, and over the years has become more casual,” one of the organizers, Bob Bescher said. “You used to have to be a member of the Yacht Club to participate, prizes were awarded and everyone came back to the yacht club for dinner.”
Membership is no longer required; there are no entry fees and no prizes – unless the crowd cheering from the shore counts.
“It’s become more of a community event,” Bescher said. “People with homes along the route have their holiday parties, and there are two public viewing areas at Waterfront Park and Cimmeron Basin.”
This year the organizers have asked everyone with a dock along the parade route to turn on their dock lights.
“With the lights decorating the boat it’s hard to see,” Ulis said. “There are a couple of areas that are really dark if the docks aren’t lit.”
Three boats that won’t be decorated are the two Flagler Sheriff’s office boats at the beginning and end of the parade, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation boat.
“We will also have Tow Boat U.S., just in case,” Ulis said.
The Grand Marshalls for this year’s parade will be Flagler County Sheriff Jim Manfre and Palm Coast Mayer Jon Netts.