28th Annual Christmas Boat Parade


Santa Ships Ahoy!

Nothing better says that The Holidays are right around the corner than seeing Santa Clause and all things Christmas plying the Fort Myers Beach waters at the 28th annual Christmas Boat Parade on Saturday, December 3, at 6 p.m. Last year over 30 boats participated, and 2016 promises to be bigger, better, more exciting and festive!

The parade passes through Matanzas Harbor and the first two canals of Siesta Isles, with excellent viewpoints at establishments such as Beach Sand Bar-&-Grill, Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Café, Bootleggers Waterfront Barbeque, Dixie Fish Company, Doc Ford’s, Matanzas on the Bay, Moss Marina, Nervous Nellie’s, Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, Salty Sam’s Marina, and Smokin’ Oyster’s Brewery, where you can kick back at any to savor the seasonal splendor with holiday drinks and delicious meals.

Rob Capps, the chairman of the Christmas Boat Parade for the Fort Myers Beach Chamber, calls it “a fun little event that isn’t so little anymore! I volunteered about 5 years ago, then became the Chair a few years back, took the responsibility and set sail with it, and it’s been a great time.”

He says that “it was so terrific watching the parade from the restaurants that I wanted to get in it. Seeing it from shore is extremely cool, but when you are actually on a boat in the parade – especially the lead boat – there are people lined up all along the route or standing on the bridges with priceless looks on their faces. Then you turn backward and see the long line of boats and the sight is awesome. It puts everyone in a great tropical Christmas spirit and sets the tone for the season in true Fort Myers Beach form.”

The Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce hosts the Christmas Boat Parade. Bud Nocera, the outgoing Chamber president, says that “every year it becomes more popular, not only from the standpoint of more people watching onshore but the number of participants. Thirty to forty boats enter every year, meaning it now takes roughly an hour for them all to pass by any area along the viewing route.”

He describes the Christmas Boat Parade as “a family event that literally sparkles. It is great fun and a nice party on and around the water. It is also a dynamic competition among participating boaters who are in it year-after-year, just like neighbors do with their yard decorations. Captains always try to one-up each other every season.”

Bud still remembers his all-time favorite boat: “Its sail had a decoration that looked just like the famous leg lamp from ‘A Christmas Story.’ That is the perfect example of the level of creativity you will see, enjoy, and experience.”

The Christmas Boat Parade is sadly Bud’s final act as Chamber president, as he steps down following the event, with Jacki Liszak taking over effective Monday, December 5.

Rob expresses his deepest appreciation to all the parade’s sponsors, because “without them we could not do this. The Christmas Boat Parade is not a money-making event but exclusively for the enjoyment of the community, to come out and celebrate the season. The sponsors make that possible.”

There is a mandatory Captain’s meeting to go through the parade’s basic guidelines at The Hampton Inn at 11281 Summerlin Square Drive on Thursday, December 1, at 7 p.m. The entry fee is $25 per boat or $50 for a sponsored craft. For information contact the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce at 239-454-7500 or see chamber@fortmyersbeach.org.

Come see the water shimmer, stars shine, and holiday lights sparkle at the 28th annual Christmas Boat Parade on Saturday, December 3, at 6 p.m.

Gary Mooney