Water hit the shores, streets and sidewalks Saturday morning. This rainy weather caused some discomfort and uncertainty if it would subside in time for the annual Marco Island Boat Parade.
“I watched the Weather Channel every eight minutes on the hour, fingers crossed, and had the rabbit’s foot in my pocket, but it’s Florida, the rain has a mind of its own,” said Charlie Wilde, owner of Dolphin Tiki Bar & Cafe.
“... the rain didn’t stop me from celebrating Christmas, it’s that special,” said Marlen Malendez, dedicated decorator of the Cecilia, who drove over from Fort Lauderdale to participate in the Boat Parade.
By 2 p.m., the skies had cleared, the water dried off the decks and damage control ensued.
“I checked every single light bulb. There is over 6,000 lights and I was determined not to be defeated by a little water,” said Capt. Dave Dehanas of April’s Sunset.
This perseverance, landed April Sunset the “Most Creative” recognition of the Boat Parade’s four awards. Named after his wife April, April’s Sunset illuminated and sparkled with Christmas spirit for the second year in a row; it consisted of four different computer light programs. Capt. Dave’s creativity wowed the judges and hundreds from onshore.
Spectators and participants traveled long distances to attend the festivities. All the way from the United Kingdom with family in tow, Deryk Young has made it a family tradition to participate in the parade each year.
“Every year we are here in beautiful Marco. There’s no other place in the world like it. Yes, it maybe a green Christmas, but where else can you partake in such an extraordinary event. The people involved and interested show so much spirit that it is contagious,” said Young.
“A few days before the Parade, my spirit couldn’t have gotten any higher. I ran up to Home Depot, bought a few hundred lights, some duct tape, a reindeer, and Santa. With help from my wife, Sue and daughter Carly, we went to work, despite the rain,” revealed Young. After all the Young’s family efforts, their boat Jolley Good placed first in the category of “Best in Spirit.”
Sparkling boats manned with caroling crews shouted and waved “Merry Christmas” as they cruised the Marco River. One of the loudest voices was that of Capt. Kim Schmidt of the vessel Insanely Kimi.
“This event brings the community together, you get to spend time with family, neighbors, friends and other yachtsman celebrating spirit and joyfulness. We don’t just wave, we dance, jump up and down and like to put on a show for our audiences. That’s what’s it’s all about: fun, food and friendliness,” shared Schmidt.
Insanely Kimi had proven successful to win the category of “Most Entertaining.”
The judging took place on the upper level of the Snook Inn.
“I would like to give recognition to everyone for showing up, showing spirit and showing support,” commented Debra Sanders, one of 10 judges from the Marco Police Foundation.
Lastly, the fourth category of “Best In Parade” consisted of overall appearance, attitude and attentiveness to detail. All of these aspects was apparent in Capt. Chuck Bace’s Cecilia, proudly named after his mother, Cecilia Bace.
“Countless hours of placing each bulb in a specific spot, turning each decoration on and off to ensure its effectiveness, and having a fun and fantastic time is why I have participated in the past two years,” revealed Bace.
Cecilia proudly presented her presence as she paraded in the ninth spot.
“Its about the hard work, happiness and having the holiday spirit. I have seen old friends, made new friends, and shouted ‘Merry Christmas’ over a hundred times,” explained Bace of the event’s significance.
Such holiday events on Marco Island, like the Boat Parade, have become local and favorite family traditions.
With a few crossed fingers and holiday hopefulness, this event proved to be another successful story of sailing spirits and celebrations.