Christmas Island Style Holiday Boat Parade illuminates Marco Island channels
Saturday evening, Christmas Island Style took to the water. The annual Christmas Boat Parade brought a flotilla of brightly lit boats out on a tour of island waterways, with their colorful decorations reflecting on the water and inspiring numerous “watch parties” at waterfront homes along the parade route.
This year’s parade was calm and well-ordered, with clear skies, balmy temperatures, and well-marked and dredged channels. This was in marked contrast to last December, when the official CIS parade was cancelled in the wake of Hurricane Irma, with the Collier Creek entrance deemed too dangerous to pass, and aids to navigation blown away or turned into water hazards.
There was some confusion as to just how many skippers were entered, according to the judges taking their customary perch on the reviewing stand, aka the elevated balcony above the Snook Inn. Fifteen boats registered, but a couple dropped out, and some non-official boats who were not listed also cruised by, apparently on the theory that if your boat is decorated for Christmas, and there is a parade happening, why not?
Even the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Dept. boat, bringing up the rear of the parade, sported strings of holiday lights, although its brightest red lights are on board year ’round. A Sea Tow vessel also hovered nearby in case their services were needed.
Pete and Peggy Frazier, who organized last year’s ad hoc boat parade, did a 360-degree spin in “Grand Pelican,” their trawler, as they passed the Snook Inn, with Jon Holt, as Santa Claus, waving. Many of the boats had Christmas tunes blasting from their sound systems, helping to set the mood.
The judges at the Snook watched the vessels pass, jotting down notes on their forms, then huddled briefly before posting their decisions. “Best in Parade” was awarded to Capt. Mike Rushalk’s 35-ft. sloop “Euphoria,” whose mast was transformed into a towering Christmas tree with strings of lights.
“Most Creative” went to Capt. Rudi Landwaard, whose “Karine” was wrapped in purple lights for her full 50-ft. length. “Sophie’s Dinghy,” under Capt. Alexander Dubicki, won for “Most Entertaining,” and Capt. Blaine Barcic’s “Michele’s Bell” won “Best Holiday Spirit.”
Holiday spirits flowed copiously, aboard the boats and at the holiday parties along the route.The fleet mustered below the Jolley Bridge by the yacht club, then cruised down the Marco River to Collier Creek, hugging the shore. They wended their way to the Esplanade, before retracing their path.
This Saturday, the CIS parade will be the landlocked street variety, although that doesn’t mean there won’t be boats included as parade “floats.”