Four boat parades are scheduled for the upcoming weekend, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7 and 8. One of Pinellas County’s most unique holiday events, people come from far and wide to watch the boats light up the waterways.
Advice from the wise if to go early to get a good spot and plan to stay a bit after to avoid the traffic. A number of events also are planned along the beaches to enjoy.
• St Pete Beach and South Pasadena Holiday Lighted Boat Parade is Friday, Dec. 7, with a start time of 6 p.m. at the Blind Pass Bridge. The parade will head south and end at the Bayway Bridge. Contact the St Pete Beach Recreation Department at 727-363-9245 for information on how to enter a boat. There are cash prizes available and entry is free.
St Pete Beach’s Holiday Festival and boat parade viewing party in Horan Park and Community Center also begins at 6 p.m. Join city officials as they light holiday tree, enjoy live music, crafts, visit from Santa, see the MADD festival of trees and more. Parade boats can be seen from the park as they pass south towards the Bayway Bridge. For more information, visit spbrec.com or call 727-363-9245.
• The 23rd annual Tarpon Springs Holiday Boat Parade is Friday, Dec. 7, 6:30 to 8:15 p.m., on the Anclote River to Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs. The parade starts at Tarpon Landing Marina at about 6:30 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Spring Bayou about 8:15 p.m. Santa will disembark and visit with the kids after the parade.
Registration forms are available at The Landing and other area marinas, as well as the Tarpon Springs Recreation Division, 400 S. Walton Ave. and online at TSRDonline.com. Participation is free. Trophies will be awarded to the best-decorated boats. For more information, call 942-5628.
• The 27th annual Gulfport Lighted Christmas Boat Parade on Dec. 8 proceeds from Gulfport Municipal Marina at about 6 p.m. It will then travel past the William's Pier in Gulfport and into the canals of Town Shores Condominiums and Pasadena Yacht Club Estates. Isla Del Sol Yacht and Country Club will be included on the route as well. The parade will cross the bay and pass by the club docks before returning to Boca Ciega Yacht Club.
• The 2012 Island Estates Yacht Club Memorial Holiday Parade is Saturday, Dec. 8, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The decorated boats assemble in Mandalay Channel located between Island Estates and Clearwater Beach at 6 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., the lead boat proceeds northward through Mandalay Channel, followed by a parade of lighted vessels that weave in and out of many of the Island Estate canals before heading over to Coachman Park around 8 p.m.
The boats travel under the new Memorial Causeway Bridge, turning into the Clearwater Marina Channel before navigating to the Clearwater Yacht Club’s judging stand. Cash and gift certificate prizes, donated by many area businesses will be awarded to the best-decorated boats.
The Island Estates boat parade, one of the largest and most popular marine events in the Clearwater area, is celebrating its 38th year. The parade honors the memory of Island Estates Yacht Club members who have died during the year.
The pre-parade captain’s meeting is Thursday, Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m., at the Clearwater Yacht Club. There is no parade entry fee. Boaters interested in participating should contact IEYC fleet captain Scott Sanders at 215-5730 or email@example.com.
• The 26th annual Indian Rocks Beach Holiday Boat Parade, starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Holiday Inn Harbourside. Lineup begins at 6:45 p.m. about 200 yards south of the southern end of the Holiday Inn fuel dock. Sailboats should line up at the end.
The procession heads north from the Holiday Inn dock and continues north to pass under the Walsingham/S.R. 688 Bridge. The parade ends at the north end of City Limits off Harbor Drive North.
The Captains’ Awards Ceremony is Monday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m., on the deck at Jimmy Guana’s at the Holiday Inn Harbourside. For more information or to sign up to participate, call Randy Schwab, city of Indian Rocks Beach, at 595-6889, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Participants are asked to make sure that their boats’ navigational lights are working, and the boat meets all approved Coast Guard requirements, including a sufficient number of approved life vests, etc.
• Redington Beach/Indian Shores annual lighted boat parade is Sunday, Dec. 23, 6 p.m. It sails from Tom Stuart Causeway and along the Intracoastal Waterway, meandering into the numerous canals that form the waterfronts in the participating towns to it final destination The Pub in Indian Shores.
The rendezvous/starting point will be on the north side of the Tom Stuart Causeway (Madeira Beach) Causeway. Boats will rendezvous at 5:30 p.m. with their lights off. The boats will light up in unison at 6 p.m., starting the parade.
After touring Redington Beach, North Redington Beach and Redington Shores, the parade will pass through the Park Boulevard drawbridge and proceed north along the ICW through Indian Shores to the finish point at The Pub Restaurant, 20025 Gulf Blvd. in Indian Shores.
The awards ceremony and party will follow the arrival of the last lighted boat. Pub owner, Steve Westphal, donates hot hors d’oeuvres for the boat crews and their guests.
The awards this year include cash prizes for first, second and third places. All participating boats will get a variety of prizes including products, gifts and gift certificates donated by local businesses. For more information, call Redington Shores Town Hall at 727-397-5538. There is no entry fee for participating in the parade.
A “Captains Meeting” is on Thursday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m., in the Community Room, at the rear of the North Redington Beach Town Hall. Boat captains can pick up their boat identification numbers at the meeting. Any boat captains unable to pick up their identification boards on Thursday will be able to get them during normal business hours on Friday, Dec. 21, at the Redington Shores Town Hall. Call 727-397-5538.