Holiday boat parade will illuminate Laguna Madre
As the holiday season starts and Christmas lights go up and communities throughout the Rio Grande Valley host holiday parades, there is only one place to see boats decked out in extravagant lighting schemes in a parade that navigates the Laguna Madre from Port Isabel to South Padre Island. This year will be the 27th Lighted Boat Parade hosted by the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce. It’s a floating festival of lights as captains of boats large and small will outfit their vessels with colorful holiday decorations for the parade on Saturday, Dec. 6.
All manner of boats, from sailing yachts to pontoon boats, will light up the Laguna Madre, and some crews will be in costume and parade watchers migh event be able to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus.
Last year the tradition of the Lighted Boat Parade was put on hold as foul weather forced the flotilla’s cancellation. Although there is a chance of scattered showers this weekend, Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Betty Wells said the parade will return this year. “It’s going to happen as scheduled,” she said. “Historically captains wait until the last minute to register but we’re expected between 10 and 15 boats.” The parade route has changed a bit this year due to silting in some of the channels in Port Isabel. “We just can’t get some of the bigger boats into the Fingers area,” Wells said.
The 6 p.m. parade start will be held at South Point Marina in Port Isabel, pass by Long Island Village into the Laguna Madre, where it will pass in front of Pirates Landing and around toward Anchor Marina before turning around to cross the bay. The decorated boats will navigate the Laguna Madre north of the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge, turning into Tompkins Channel and along the Island to Louie’s Backyard. After the parade, which usually ends between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., an awards ceremony will be held at Louie’s.
Trophies and prizes will be awarded to the top three winners in each of six divisions: commercial boats; small power boats 18 feet and under; medium power boats 19 to 29 feet; large power boats 30 feet and over; sailboats 25 feet and under; and sailboats 26 feet and over. Vessels are judged on first impression, theme, special effects, numbers of lights and animated characters.