MARCO ISLAND — Santa sailed the seas Saturday, or at least the Intra-Coastal Waterway. A dozen private pleasure craft, plus the Marco Island Princess and the police escort boat, toured from the MIYC to the Esplanade and back shortly after sunset in the Christmas Island Style (CIS) annual Christmas Boat Parade.
Along with the official entrants, a couple of unregistered but lit up boats cruised by, presumably having crossed the river from the Isles of Capri Boat Parade. Crowds turned out on a beautiful, balmy night, thronging the Esplanade, where the people’s choice award was tabulated, and the Snook Inn, where the official event judges rated the boats from the upstairs balcony. Homes along the parade route were also a hot ticket for private viewing parties. Before the fleet arrived, a school of what appeared to be catfish gathered around a snook light at the Snook Inn kept the crowd, particularly the younger generation, entertained.
CIS chairman Steve Stefanides kept an eye on things from the MIPD vessel with its blue light, while the parade entries displayed a rainbow of colored lights. Vessels operating at night are always supposed to display red and green lights (port wine is red, so the red light is on the ship’s left) but these craft went overboard in a profusion of illumination.
The winner of best in parade, Notorious Vee under Capt. Scott DeHooghe, went all blue with its lights, including the outstretched spreaders, appearing reminiscent of a ghost ship from “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Capt. Robert Cholka’s Cool Journey took Best Holiday Spirit, and got in a plug for keeping fit. Sea Fox, with Capt. Paul Flores, won for most creative, Tenn Sea Waltz and Capt. Bob Herndon won most entertaining, and the people’s choice Award also went to Cool Journey.
The judges at the Snook Inn represented a who’s who of island organizations, under the direction of “president of everything” Dick Shanahan. The lineup featured Dianna Dohm of the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island, Lisa Honig with the American Cancer Society, Tom Wagor of the Marco Island Historical Society, Nancy Carrington of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, Kevin Sullivan from the Marco Island Sunrise Rotary, Bernardo Bezos of the Marco Island Civic Association, Jim Hallman from the Marco Island Taxpayers Association.