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Boat-a-long draws crowds to Bimini Basin

By Staff | Dec 20, 2009

The excitement built through the crowd as Santa Claus made his arrival on the shores of Four Freedoms Park, late Sunday but it was the cool temperatures and brisk breeze that truly made the 33rd annual Christmas Boat-a-long feel like a holiday event.
While Cape Coral’s chilly temperatures were nothing comapred to other parts of the country buried under snow, the weather helped to add a little something extra to more than 150 boats in the yacht basin, bringing christmas cheer as they cruised.
Organizer Dave Drake said the temperatures weren’t as bad as he was expecting, and that prospects of a cool night weren’t keeping people away.
“It’s not as cold as I thought it would be,” Drake said. It’s looking good out here … from what I’m seeing, there’s 5,000 people on shore.”
Drake has chaired the event for the past eight years, taking over for long-time Cape resident Edwina Hahn who founded the much-loved parade.
Drake has said in the past that Edwina’s passion for the event has helped to make it Cape Coral’s version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, and the city’s oldest, longest-running event.
Last year, Edwina passed away, and Drake dedicated last year’s parade in her honor. This year is no different.
“Her family is going to be on the parade route,” he said. “We’re going to shoot fireworks off in front of their home.”
Normally, Drake takes the lead boat in the parade, his father’s. But this year mechanical problems forced Drake to seek a new lead boat and lead boat captain. Enter Dan Deems and his boat, the 35-foot Merlago called “Gold Rush” which was decorated in a tropical Christmas theme.
Deems has participated in the boat parade for the past five years, but this is the first time he’s been the lead boat. He said a simple e-mail put him out front this year.
“I didn’t know my boat would qualify,” Deems said. “If no one steps up I said I’d be happy to do what I can.”
Deems added that he and his three sons have been crafting a new family tradition over the last five years by taking part in the event, and that the four of them decorated the boat together this year.
He said he’s be happy to have another shot to be the lead boat, but he’s just happy to be part of all the festivities.
“Its a lot of fun,” he said. “As long as I got a boat that floats, we’ll be in it.”