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Holiday Boat Parade/ Bay Walk Christmas offer early celebrations

December 2, 2009

Happy Holidays will be the theme this weekend on Fort Myers Beach with two events to get you into the spirit.

A stream of well-lit boats will cruise along Estero Bay when the 23rd annual Holiday Boat Parade begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, at Pink Shell Resort Marina. The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce is again the sponsor for the annual event.

More than 200 performers are expected on three stages throughout three street blocks on Old San Carlos Boulevard when the Live Art Bay Walk Christmas on the Bay Festival takes shape this weekend. The Bay Walk group will sponsor this event on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 9:40 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Article Photos

Boat owners will be decorating their vessels for the 23rd annual Holiday Boat Parade Saturday.

Holiday Boat Parade

The annual traditional event showcases nearly two dozen "dressed up" boats proceeding along Matanzas Bay and through the canals of Siesta Isles. The boat route will be watched by many onlookers from ashore and parked boats.

The lead boat of VIPs, including Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, is being provided by Estero Bay Express. First-, second-, and third-place trophies and three peoples' choice awards will be rewarded for best decorations in three categories at the awards ceremony on the Upper Deck at Matanzas Inn once the parade has finished. The categories are:

n powerboats less than 26 feet in length

n powerboats more than 26 feet in length

n sailboats

"It's impressive to see the line of lit boats," said FMB Chamber of Commerce John Albion. "It's important for the island community to get together. It's a lot of fun."

Roughly 20 boats participated in last year's event.

"We're looking for at least that number and hopefully more," said Albion. "We have received some negative feedback from people because of the economy and gas prices. They aren't willing to come from farther distances like Cape Coral. So, we're hopeful that more locals will come out and recognize that it's a neat way to get out on the water, do something fun and make up for some of the boaters who can't participate."

Parade entry applications and maps of the viewing area can be obtained at the Chamber office, located at 17200 San Carlos Blvd., and on their Web site at Applications are available through Dec. 3. For more information, please contact the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce office at 454-7500.

Live Art Bay Walk Christmas on the Bay Festival '09

According to promoter Anita McFadden, when you combine four free forms of fine and performing arts at one place and one time, you're experiencing something special. Such is the case with "Live Art Bay Walk - Christmas on the Bay.

"This is the first and only event in Southwest Florida to showcase music, theater, art and dance all at one location free of charge," she said.

All four categories will be featured throughout the weekend at the inaugural event. Local private and public schools will display their gifted performers, actors and actresses. The opening ceremony of the event kicks off at 9:40 a.m. and ends with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

On one stage, music will be the central theme when a combination of bands, music schools, local musicians and song artists share interpretation time. Another stage will feature the "Christmas Village" with a focus on performance and dance involving theatrical plays, comedians, magicians and acrobats to dance style such as traditional ballet, tap, jazz, ballroom, hip hop, break, hula hoop, belly and fire.

The festivities will include pictures with Santa; craft tables to benefit The Boys & Girls Club of Lee County; bounce house; pony rides; games and a performance/art/dance camp for the kids. Food and beverage specials will be available within the event perimeters by Bay Walk participants Yucatan, SOB, Snug Harbor and Matanzas Inn Restaurant.

Unpaid street performers will seek tips for their acts. A karaoke machine will also be available for those who want to showcase their own talents.

Space is still available for artists, vendors, volunteers and sponsors. The event is sponsored by the Bay Walk Group of Merchants, Breeze Newspapers, Tech Tronics and Presstige Printing & Hwy Technologies.

For more information please visit or call Anita McFadden at 440-9599.

BRILLIANTSEE, Inc. will be hosting a fundraiser to benefit Abuse Counseling & Treatment, Inc.

The Official Blues After Party for the event will be held at the Lani Kai Resort from noon to 6 p.m. It will feature the same blues musicians that will perform on the Bay Walk stages



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