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Boat-a-Long – Cape Coral holiday tradition continues Saturday

By Staff | Dec 19, 2019


The Holiday Boat-a-Long event that is set for 4 p.m. to 10 p.m Saturday at Four Freedoms Park may be impacted by high winds and thunderstorms, city officials said Friday.

City of Cape Coral Special Events staff will be closely monitoring the weather and will have a better idea tomorrow as to any impacts the weather may have on this annual event, officials said. An update will be issued at noon on Saturday.

Cancellation of the event may be necessary for safety reasons in the event of high winds and/or thunderstorms, officials added.

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While families around Southwest Florida are decking their halls for the holidays, some are decking out their boats in preparation of a cherished Cape tradition.

The 43rd annual Holiday Boat-A-Long returns to Four Freedoms Park this weekend, ready to set sail for yet another special night of vessels adorned in lights, decorations and festive attire.

The free event is from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the park and includes live entertainment, a classic Christmas movie and even a visit from Jolly Ol’ St. Nick himself.

“It’s always a wonderful night to celebrate the holidays, tradition in our city, and come together with family and friends,” said Kristin Bean, specialist for the City of Cape Coral Special Events Division. “Our guests might even see some snow — there’s nothing like that to make our residents that used to live up north feel like they are back home.”

Going strong for over 40 years, the Holiday Boat-A-Long gives local captains a chance to garnish their bow with bows, illuminate lights from port to starboard sides and have some friendly competition with fellow participants to see who can get the biggest “Oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd.

“It’s definitely the highlight of the event to see all of the boats decorated and decked out for the crowd, Bean said. “Last year, we had a record 187 boats. The event has grown significantly in the last few years.”

The event is much more than just a boat parade, as attendees will be treated to local dancers, a duet singing holiday tunes, food vendors, crafts for the kids and more.

Santa Claus will make the trek to Cape Coral early to take pictures with the kids — and probably to catch a few rays of sun before he hits the home stretch up at the workshop.

As the night goes on, an edited TV version of the holiday classic, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” will be shown at the park.

“It’s one of the best Christmas movies out there, so we’re extremely excited to show it to our audience,” Bean said.

Todd King, Special Events Coordinator for the city, is sure to hear Bean exclaim, “And why is the carpet all wet Todd?!” — a play on a classic scene from the movie where an icicle from the Griswold’s home makes its way through their holiday-hating neighbor’s window, subsequently melting and dampening the carpet.

“I reference this line all year,” Bean said in jest.

This event is a special one for Cape residents and those who visit the city yearly, some making sure they come down when the Boat-A-Long takes place.

“We get calls about this event as early as February/March, so people can make vacation plans around this event,” Bean said. “It’s definitely an important tradition our city looks forward to each year.”

The city warns that there is very limited parking at Four Freedoms Park for the event. There will be a shuttle to pick up attendees at the northeast corner of Southeast 47th Terrance and Southeast 10th Place (stop sign next to Big Blue Brewing). Drivers can park in any downtown lot near the pickup location. The shuttles run nonstop beginning at 3:30 and will run until after the event to return passengers to their cars. There will be roughly 34-40 handicap spaces at the park. There also are handicap spots in the downtown lots near the shuttle pickup location. Guests can also do a drop off at the park.

The Special Events Division highly encourages attendees to bring lawn chairs and blankets.

Four Freedoms Park is at 4818 Tarpon Court, off Cape Coral Parkway, in Cape Coral.

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