What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to view a flotilla of boats all decked out in Christmas lights? Lighted boat parades are much-anticipated holiday traditions on lakes that do not freeze during winter months. Many benefit needy children or raise funds for other charitable purposes. If your favorite lake doesn’t have a holiday boat parade, forward this blog – as a 2011 event suggestion – to your local marina, charity, or Chamber of Commerce.
Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia: November 27, 2010
20,000-acre Smith Mountain Lake, “Jewel of the Blue Ridge,” is located in the foothills of southwest Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. This four-season destination is home to about 18,000 residents and hosts special events throughout the season, including a Christmas Flotilla for Toys Boat Parade. The paddlewheel cruise ship, the Virginia Dare, heads the grand flotilla of boats that cruise the lake collecting toys to benefit needy children. The convoy of boats, decorated with beautiful lights and playing seasonal music, makes a spectacular way to kick-off the holiday season.
Lake Lanier, Georgia : December 4, 2010
38,000-acre Lake Lanier is a premier residential and vacation location about 25 miles northeast of Atlanta. More than 7.5 million people visit the lake each year for its scenic waters and diverse recreation. The annual Lake Lanier Parade of Lights benefits the UYC Maritime Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to promoting education, safety and sportsmanship in the boating community. Festivities begin with a “Taste of the Lake” celebration at Aqualand Marina. This year’s challenge is to top last year’s spectacular ‘Gabriel’ boat.
Lake Havasu, Arizona & California: December 3 & 4, 2010
The most recognizable sight around 20,000-acre Lake Havasu is the London Bridge, completely moved from England in 1971 to this unlikely location straddling the Arizona/California border. Lake Havasu is a 20,000-acre recreational fishing and boating jewel in an arid desert landscape. The theme for this year’s 28th Annual Boat Parade of Lights, sponsored by the London Bridge Yacht Club, is “Toys on Parade.” Come join in the fun as the boats cruise up and down the channel and out into the lake.
Lake Union & Lake Washington, Washington : November 27-December 23, 2010
The Lake Washington Ship Canal connects freshwater Lake Washington and Lake Union with saltwater Puget Sound through a series of locks modeled after the Panama Canal. The holiday boat parade and festival have been a lake tradition since 1941, with crowds gathering along the shorelines to view the flotilla of boats. This year’s festival kicks off in Lake Union to commemorate the new South Lake Union Park. The Argosy cruise ship will sail to over 45 waterfront communities throughout the festival with onboard choirs broadcasting through a speaker system. Cruise ticket sales benefit the Seattle Times Fund for the Needy.
To read about all 9 Holiday Boat Parades, visit our Lakelubbers Newsletter Archive. And don’t forget to sign up for future newsletters, delivered straight to your email inbox!