Boat parades show off South Florida’s holiday spirit

Every December vessels adorned with lights and decorations make up what is known as South Florida’s holiday boat parade season.

Preparations can take weeks or months for some, while others prefer instead to watch the parades from waterfront homes and restaurants or spectator locations.

About 50 boats are expected in the Miami Outboard Club’s 20th Annual Holiday Boat Parade on Dec. 16, where attendees will find food trucks, a snow village, a DJ and a fireworks show starting at 9 p.m. at Bayfront Park.

“It’s a free event to the community, so we invite everybody to come out and enjoy the parade,” said Tony Hernandez, parade committee chair.

In late November, about 44 boats from 18 to 77 feet were registered in the 55th Annual Pompano Beach & Lighthouse Point Boat Parade, taking place Sunday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. Participating boats include SeaVee, Post, Key West, Contender and sailboats.

This year’s parade theme is “Be the Star of the Show.”

“We even accept kayaks and paddleboards if they want to participate,’’ said Rhonda Bunker, chairperson.

Pompano Beach resident Scott McIlvaine is taking his 43-foot Sports Fisherman to three boat parades: Pompano Beach, Boca Raton and Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest. The theme for his boat is from the movie, “Animal House,” which will feature a fraternity house on the bow along with lots of colors and lights.

“It’s a lot of fun, we enjoy the parade,” he said.

Pompano Beach residents Trae West and Jim Blake will participate in the Pompano Beach Boat Parade with a 35-foot Contender center console. The theme of the boat will be based on the movie “Grease” and will display the Grease logo on top of the boat.

“We are making the boat into a hot rod like an oldest car like out of the movie Grease,” West said.

Listed below is a sampling of holiday boat parades:

The 23rd Annual Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade & 18th Annual Toy Drive benefiting Toys for Tots and Little Smiles; takes place 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, starting at the north end of Lake Worth Lagoon in North Palm Beach, arriving at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse about 8 p.m. Expect a display of Zambelli Fireworks, and special guest Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti, a past runner-up of “America’s Got Talent.” The parade will also feature Mo and Sally from KOOL 105.5 on the Loggerhead Marina Grand Marshal Boat. Boat entry is free. Call: 561-863-0012.

The 46th Annual Boynton Beach & Delray Beach Annual Holiday Boat Parade takes place 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 8, starting at the Lantana bridge near Old Key Lime House, winding south down the Intracoastal to the C-15 Canal. Live music will entertain parade viewers at the Boynton Harbor Marina. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for donation to Toys for Tots. Call 561-600-9097 or 561-243-7250.

The 46th Annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 9, starts in the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, traveling east to the ICW then north to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. This year’s theme is “Broadway on Parade.” Private boats can register for $35.Visit

The 27th Annual Schooner Wharf Bar & Galley Lighted Boat Parade in Key West takes place 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, with a tropical family-style tribute to the holiday season. The boat parade will sail to the southernmost city’s Key West Bight and Harbor. A captain’s meeting takes place Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. on Schooner Wharf’s upper deck. Boat entry fee is $25. Call 305-292-3302.

The 55th Annual Greater Pompano Beach & Lighthouse Point Holiday Boat Parade takes place 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 10, presented by ACR Electronics, Inc. At 6:30 p.m., boats will depart from Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach traveling north on the ICW. A captain’s briefing will be held Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m., at The Isle Casino. It’s free to register a participating boat. The deadline to enter is Dec. 1. Call 954-941-2940.

Boca Raton-Delray Beach Boat Parade takes place 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 16, with the parade starting at the C-15 heading south to Hillsboro bridge. View the parade at Red Reef Park (west), the Wild Flower Property, or Silver Palm Park. Boat registration is free. Visit

Miami Outboard Club’s 20th Holiday Boat Parade takes place 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. The parade starts at the Miami Outboard Club and continues along Government Cut toward downtown Miami past the Miami Children Museum, Bayside and Bayfront Park. The official viewing site is Bayfront Park. Boat registration cost is $45. Deadline is Dec 14. Visit