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Boat-a-Long sets sail along Four Freedoms shores

By Staff | Dec 18, 2015

Boats adorned with holiday lights and festive decorations will take to the water Saturday evening as Cape Coral marks the season with its 39th annual celebration.

Hosted by the city, the Holiday Boat-A-Long will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. at Four Freedoms Park. It will feature live music, a visit from Santa and the boat-a-long, along with a Movie in the Park.

“Certain communities have iconic traditional kind of event,” Todd King, special events coordinator at the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said. “This really is a landmark event for Cape Coral.”

Last year, the event was moved from Sunday to Saturday to make it more family friendly.

“It’s well received by the community, for sure,” he said. “We usually draw about 5,000 people.”

The celebration will kick off at 4 p.m., with the entertainment provided by local groups.

Some acts include the Gulf Middle School Choir, The Calendar Girls and the Ovation Singers, a high school show choir group. The Robin Dawn Academy of Performing Arts will also take the stage.

“They’re doing a variety of holiday dance performances,” King said.

At approximately 6 p.m., attendees can expect a visit from St. Nick himself.

“Parents usually bring their cameras or cell phones with a camera for pictures,” he said.

Children will have a chance to work on holiday crafts inside of Santa’s workshop.

“There are Christmas crafts,” King said, adding that making ornaments is one of the activities.

At about 7 p.m., the decorated boats will begin the parade in the Bimini Basin, before heading out along the route. It takes approximately 40 minutes for all of the boats to circle out of the basin.

“It always draws about 120 boats,” he said.

King explained that some of the boats register for the event, while some just show up. Registration is recommended, however, by contacting Heather O’Brien at Sea Tow Fort Myers at (239) 945-4820.

After the parade, the city will host a Movie in Park, featuring “Elf.” Last year, the city showed a full-length movie for the first time – “The Polar Express” – rather than a few, short holiday classics.

“‘Elf’ just seemed like it has moved to an iconic Christmas movie level, so we think it’ll be well received,” King said of selecting the feature film.

Attendees are welcome and encouraged to bring blankets and chairs to sit on.

“We are going to have a cold front coming through,” he said.

Food and drink vendors will be on site, offering traditional festival fare.

“We have some Christmas toys and light toys,” King said.

Public parking will be available in lots to the west of Four Freedoms Park, near the Sunset Towers, along with in a lot east of Cape Coral Parkway and Southeast Eighth Court, on the north side.

“There is some parking behind the old Fifth Third Bank,” he said.

Attendees can also use the downtown public lots, like Big John’s and Club Square.

“There’s pretty much zero parking at Four Freedoms Park,” King said.

Organizers urged the public to come out Saturday.

“When you see those boats in the bay all lit up, it really does raise your holiday spirit,” he said.

“And it’s a fun activity for families to take part in,” King added.

Four Freedoms Park is at 4818 Tarpon Court.