FLORIDA KEYS — To help Santa navigate his stopover in the Florida Keys, large and small boats are to be lighted and decorated to illuminate the waterways and enliven the Keys’ holiday season.
Boat parades are planned throughout the island chain, featuring vessel decorations that range from traditional lights and greenery to offbeat salutes to the season.
Visitors can view the processions from shore or excursion boat, or even deck out their own craft and become part of the merriment.
Following is a roster of boat parades planned between Key Largo and Key West.
Saturday, Dec. 10, 5 p.m.
Boot Key Harbor Lighted Christmas Boat Parade (Marathon)
At this favorite Middle Keys holiday event, dinghies, mega-yachts and vessels in between cruise the harbor in a sparkling procession. Best viewing sites include Lazy Days South, Marathon Marina, Sombrero Dockside Lounge and Burdine’s Waterfront, around mile markers (MM) 47-50. Contact: 305-849-0285 or www.bootkeyharbor.com/christmas_parade.htm.
Saturday, Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m.
Key Largo Boat Parade (Key Largo)
Blackwater Sound is to shimmer as decorated boats parade along the shoreline in celebration of the holiday season. This year’s theme is “Key Largo Imagination” and the event’s grand marshal is to be Jon Landau, award-winning producer of films “Avatar” and “Titanic.” The best viewing and libations are to be found at Sundowners, Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill, Senor Frijoles, the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort and Caribbean Club, MM 103-104. Contact: 305-394-3736 or www.keylargoboatparade.com.
Saturday, Dec. 10, 8 p.m.
Schooner Wharf Bar 21st Annual Lighted Boat Parade (Key West)
Lighted and decorated vessels from rowboats to tall ships proceed around Key West’s Historic Seaport and harbor areas. Before the boat parade, at 6 p.m., the Gerald Adams Elementary School “Steel” Your Heart Band will welcome spectators with songs of the season, followed by the popular family band, The Doerfels. Holiday revelers can watch and applaud from bars, restaurants and resorts in and around the Historic Seaport. Contact: 305-292-3302 or www.schoonerwharf.com/11boatparade.htm.
Sunday, Dec. 11, 6 p.m. (dusk)
Key Colony Beach Lighted Boat Parade (Marathon area)
Christmas lights on outriggers and displays on boat decks are part of the beautiful festivities during the Key Colony Beach Boat Parade, set to begin at the 7th Street canal. The parade is open to all boats, and the route visits canals and cuts, and passes city hall three times. Great viewing spots include Sadowski Causeway at MM 53.5 and the area behind city hall. The event is open to the public. Contact: 305-743-7214.
Saturday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m.
Lower Keys Lighted Boat Parade (Lower Florida Keys)
All boats are welcome to enter the parade including deep-sea cruisers, dinghies, kayaks and canoes. Santa and Mrs. Claus are expected to arrive and hand out candy to the kids. The best recommended viewing is from Pine Channel Causeway or Parrotdise Waterfront Bar & Grille, 183 Barry Ave. on Little Torch Key. Contact: Steve at 305-923-5370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS