The 25th annual Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade, sponsored by the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, will be held Saturday, Dec. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. The parade will begin at Salty Sam's Marina around 6:10 p.m. and pass through Matanzas Harbor and the first two canals of Siesta Isles.
This year, the lighted night-time parade will be commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor. World War II veteran Russ Winset will be onboard the Chamber's lead boat as the guest of honor, along with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
"We have hosted the event for the past several years and so excited to, once again, be a part of the annual Christmas Boat Parade," said Jaime Huffman, marketing director of Salty Sam's Waterfront Adventures. "So far, about 10 have signed up, but we are expecting 30 or more boats to participate in this year's parade."
The 25th annual Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade will be setting sail Saturday, Dec. 7, beginning around 6:10 p.m. Above, a parade boat prepares to depart, and, yes, that is a paddle-boarding elf in the background! Photo courtesy JAIME HUFFMAN.
Chamber officials are looking for additional boats and their captains who would like to participate. Enter you boat and show your Christmas and patriotic spirit to thousands of delighted spectators.
Parade Committee Chair Robb Capps is planning the event, which will feature colorfully lit boats and parties.
Individuals or businesses wishing to participate are asked to register by calling or visiting the Chamber.
"The more, the merrier!" Jaime eagerly stated. "It is $25 for non-sponsored, private boats to participate, and $50 for corporate-sponsored boats. To register, go online to FMBBoatParade.com or call the Chamber at 239-454-7500."
If you live along the parade route, you can also get in on the fun and show your spirit by entering your party in the house party competition. If you'd like to enter a boat or house party in the parade, visit FMBBoatParade.com.
"Even if you can't participate, please come out and enjoy the parade. There are a number of great spots to view, including Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, Big Game Waterfront Grille, Doc Ford's, Bonita Bill's, Matanzas Inn Restaurant and Nervous Nellie's," Jaime said.
You can also watch the parade by sea aboard the Fort Myers Princess and the Pieces of Eight Pirate Cruise.
"If you want to be in the boat parade but don't have a boat, we recommend purchasing a ticket aboard the Pieces of Eight Pirate Cruise. It is $30 per ticket and sets sail with the parade at 6 p.m.," Jaime said.
For sailing information aboard the Fort Myers Princess cruise that evening, call 239-765-8500, 1-877-FA-BOAT-TOUR or visit FortMyersPrincess.com.
Salty Sam's Marina is offering free overnight dockage to all participating boats with advance registration, based on availability. Boats will only be required to pay for electricity, if it is needed.
"This year, we're happy to offer free overnight dockage to everyone who brings their boat to the marina decorated for Christmas," Jaime said. "Reservations are required, so call 239-463-7333 to reserve your slip!"
Boat captains are required to attend a parade safety and information meeting Friday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m., at the Chamber office. The vessels will assemble at 5:45 p.m. in front of the docks at Salty Sam's Marina for the parade, which passes Parrott Key Caribbean Grill, Big Game Waterfront Grill, Doc Ford's, Bonita Bill's, and then heads northwest under the Sky Bridge. The parade will travel in and out of Siesta Isles, turning around at Pink Shell Resort near Bowditch Point and passing Bay Walk Park, Nervous Nellie's, and Matanzas Inn Restaurant.
There is no charge for viewing the parade any place along the parade route.