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TubaChristmas to kick off weekend of boat parades
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ST. PETERSBURG – A TubaChristmas concert at The Pier will kick off the city’s 16th annual illuminated boat parade on Saturday, Dec. 11.

The 60-member tuba band, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Community Band, will play carols beginning at 5:30 p.m. The lighted flotilla sets sail at 7.

TubaChristmas was conceived in 1974 as a tribute to the late artist and music teacher, William Bell, who was born on Christmas Day in 1902. Bell was a legend in the music world and recognized internationally for his mastery of the tuba.

The celebration is now scheduled during December in 124 American cities and in Austria, Japan and Canada.

This is the fifth annual TubaChristmas concert in Pinellas County. Participants come from all over the Tampa Bay area and include many winter visitors who arrive here in time to join the event, said Bob Fritz, an avid tuba player and retired interior designer who resides in Clearwater.

“Musicians range from age 10 to mid 80s,” he said, “and about 25 percent are women.”

Tuba and euphonium players participate in the event. Fritz, 74, explained that the euphonium has a higher pitch than a tuba.

“The carols will be performed at four levels of tone,” he said.

The concert will be conducted by Bill Findeison, founder of the Awesome Original Greater St. Petersburg 2nd Time Arounders Band. The first TubaChristmas was conducted by Paul Lavalle in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza ice rink. The music was arranged by American composer Alex Wilder who composed many solo and ensemble compositions for tuba and euphonium. Ironically, Wilder died on Christmas Eve in 1980.

The Pier is at 800 Second Ave. N.E.

Other boat parades scheduled in the area are as follows:

Saturday, Dec. 11

Clearwater (Island Estates) 6:30 p.m. Begins in Mandalay Channel. Call 447-1230.

St. Pete Beach, 6 p.m. Begins at Merry Pier at Pass-A-Grille. This year’s boat parade prizes include thousands of dollars in prize packages for first through third place winners in three different categories. Two other categories include Most Santa Clauses and Best New Entry. Prizes also will be awarded to the first 40 vessels to register. Registrants must commit to staying in the parade until the end to receive prizes. All participating captains will be expected to attend a mandatory meeting. Call 363-9244.

St. Petersburg, 7:30 p.m. The Pier will host the 16th Annual Lighted Boat Parade, with holiday music and entertainment beginning at 6:30 p.m., with the parade to follow. Boat entry is free and open to all boat owners. Prizes will be awarded following the parade. Call 522-2264.

Tarpon Springs, 6 p.m. Begins at The Landing and travels down the Anclote River. No cost to participate. Trophies will be awarded for the best decorated boats. Registration forms are available at The Landing at Tarpon Springs, the Tarpon Springs Municipal Marina and at the Tarpon Springs Recreation Division, 400 S. Walton Ave. Call 942-5628.

Sunday, Dec. 12

Treasure Island, 6:30 p.m. at the T.I. Tennis and Yacht Club. The celebration begins 4:30 p.m. with a jazz orchestra playing and Santa visiting at the yacht club. Bring a new toy to the recreation department at City Hall or Treasure Bay on Paradise Boulevard until Dec. 10 to receive a pass to participate in events at the yacht club. Rain date is Monday, Dec. 13. Call 367-4511.

Indian Shores/Redingtons. Rain date Monday, Dec. 13. Start 5:45 p.m. north of the Madeira Beach Causeway Bridge, through the residential fingers of the three Redingtons and along the coast of Indian Shores ending at The Pub Waterfront Restaurant’s dock about 8:30 p.m. A captains meeting will be Wednesday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m., at North Redington Beach Town Hall, 190 173rd Ave., off Gulf Boulevard.

The best public viewing areas are DeBello Park just north of Shells in North Redington Beach about 8 p.m., and in Indian Shores, the boat launch at Park Boulevard at about 8:15 and the Estelle Harper Park behind town hall at about 8:25. Vessels will be judged in three classes from vantage points throughout the route. Prizes will be awarded in all three categories.

To enter a boat, call any of the town halls: Indian Shores, 595-4020, ext. 22; North Redington Beach, 397-4848; Redington Beach, 391-3875; and Redington Shores, 397-5538.

Wednesday, Dec. 15

South Pasadena, 6 p.m. Great American Marina. Call 347-4171.

Friday, Dec. 17

Madeira Beach, 6:30 p.m. Begins behind City Hall and goes through the fingers of the city. Immediately following the parade, join the party at the American Legion, where awards will be presented. Best overall prize is $1,000. Best 50 foot is $500 and best 25 foot is $500. Call 391-9951.

Saturday, Dec. 18

Indian Rocks Beach, 7 p.m. Begins at Holiday Inn Harborside. Call 517-0404.
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