Boat Parade lights up Four Freedoms Park
Individuals of all ages crowded the shores of Four Freedoms Park Sunday night to seek out a good spot to watch the 34th annual Cape Coral Christmas Boat-A-Long, which was followed by the movie “Home Alone.”
The tradition began in 1976, after Archie and Edwina Hahn organized the first boat parade in Cape Coral. After the couple passed, Dave Drake took over the responsibilities of organizing the parade eight years ago.
Drake kept the tradition going with his father’s boat Tinker Toy, which glowed with gingerbread people, 6-foot. candy canes, wreaths, 2,000 lights and a live Santa that had 280 flashing lights sewn into his suit.
This year’s annual event began with a countdown that was chanted from those who lined the shores of the park at 7 p.m. An upgraded fireworks display then filled the sky to officially kick off the event in the water by Drake. The crowd was then encouraged to cheer when they saw a boat with decorations they liked.
Many boats filled the basin with Christmas themed decorations that included Santa Claus, reindeer and tons of sparkling icicle lights that hung from the boats.
Joan Tribulas, who has been a regular for the past six years, said she enjoys attending the event because “you have so much fun and you meet so many nice people.”
She went on to say that every year the parade seems to get bigger and better.
Her friend Eleanor Petty said she thought the parade was wonderful because everyone was in a happy mood.
“It was very enjoyable,” Petty said about her first experience. “Every boat out did the next.”
Another first timer, Knoll Bowman said the parade was “great due to the amount of effort he felt they put into decorating their boats.
“It’s gorgeous,” he said.
Bowman explained that he watched a similar parade when he lived in New Jersey, which was a themed boat parade put on during the summer.
Another resident who ventured out Sunday night to watch the parade said she absolutely loved it and will scope out a seat well before it gets started.
“This is gorgeous,” Pat Johnson said. “Next year we will bring our chairs and come at 4 p.m.”
Lindsey Gaines, who also enjoyed the parade for the first time said she hopes that next year there will be more bleachers set up for individuals, along with more upbeat Christmas music playing while the boats make it outside of the basin.
Gaines said her 3-year-old son enjoyed watching the decorated boats drive by, along with the fireworks.
She hopes to attend the next annual boat parade as long as the weather is warmer.
Before the parade began, there were many festivities for families to participate in that began at 4 p.m. in Four Freedoms Park. Santa Claus made an appearance for all the girls and boys Sunday night for them to share what they wanted for Christmas while sitting on his lap and having a picture taken. The Oasis Elementary School choir also provided holiday music for everyone to enjoy