Key Largo’s Blackwater sound will be shimmering with color as the 32nd annual Key Largo Boat Parade sets sail at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. Illuminated boats ranging from 55 feet motors to sailboats to kayaks and paddleboards will traverse the waters of Blackwater Sound to kick off the holidays.
The parade will be led by the grand marshal boat helmed by Capt. Spencer Slate.
“This year’s theme is Paradise is Back #FloridaKeysStrong. We’re here, we’re doing well, and we’re open for business,” said Bob Stoky, parade committee member.
“In honor of the invaluable community contributions and his efforts prior to, during and after Irma, Islamorada Councilman Mike Forster, a.k.a. Mangrove Mike, has been chosen as this year’s grand marshal.”
“As one of the first annual holiday events after Irma, we’d like to see this parade with more boats than ever,” said Sue Finney, event coordinator. “Entrants can be as imaginative and creative as they want to be. They can either go with something theme related or just light up their boat and join in the fun.”
The parade route is to the north. The boats will line up at the headpin to Dusenbury Creek at 6.30 p.m. and at 7.30 p.m. will head north along the shoreline to Stillwright Point. Best public viewing locations for the parade are the Marriott Resort, Sundowners, Senor Frijoles, Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill and the Caribbean Club, all around mile markers 102 and 103.
Entry to the parade is free and all boats are entered into a $500 cash drawing, which is drawn at random from participating entries at the awards ceremony. The only boat not eligible is the Best Overall grand-prize winner. There is also more than $1,500 in cash as well as trophies and prizes to be awarded for Best Use of Theme, Most Colorful, Most Original, Best Business, Best Boat under 25 Feet and Best Boat over 25 Feet.
Everyone is invited to the awards ceremony beginning at 10 p.m. on the beach at Sundowners Restaurant, mile marker 103.9, bay side. The ceremony will be hosted by Slate and Skip Bradeen.
The owners of the entered boats should go to the captains arty on Friday Dec. 8 starting at 7.30 p.m. at Senor Frijoles, also at mile marker 103.9. The party features a free Mexican buffet, ditty bags and raffle prizes.
Boaters should sign up as soon as possible. Download the entry form at www.keylargoboatparade.com, For more information, call Finney at (305) 394-3736.