Fort Lauderdale, FL. Winterfest Boat Parade 2013
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When: 14th December, 2013
Where: Fort Lauderdale, USA
Ø When: Every second Saturday of December
Ahoy! The captain has blown the whistle and skies are set ablaze with fireworks welcoming the Winterfest Boat Parade. Every December at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale, thousands flock to the banks of New River to witness brightly lit vessels parading in procession symbolizing the exuberance of 20 zealous men who sailed on the same path in 1971 in company of their family and friends.
You can choose to be at the centre of action on a boat or simply take a place in the stands and enjoy the aeronautical stunts, bizarre performances and musical shows or wave at the local celebrities who sail past you. Come and be a part of this aquatic extravaganza!
History: As the Yachting Capital of the World underscored by dozens of gleaming yachts docked at places like the famed Bahia Mar Yacht Basin (fictional home to the Busted Flush, Travis McGee’s twin-dieseled houseboat in those John D. MacDonald novels), Greater Fort Lauderdale is a place where watercraft of all ilk get dressed up big time for holiday boat parades. It’s a destination that has come a long way since incorporation in 1911 with just 175 residents, getting its name from Maj. William Lauderdale, who in 1838 built a fort at the mouth of New River during the Seminole Indian wars.
The Winterfest Boat Parade has not always been associated with Christmas holidays nor was it intended from the beginning for an international audience. The Parade had its roots in 1971 when 20 brazen men sailed the entire length of Fort Lauderdale along with their families. Since then, the event has grown in popularity not only within the Greater Fort Lauderdale area but also the rest of Florida. It has also diversified from a water-based event to a more festive affair on land. In 1981, a not-for-profit organization was established to administer the festival and create additional attractions around it. The festival has since expanded to include a full complement of activities that includes a Golf Tournament, the Winterfest Black Tie Ball, the Shoreline Decorating Extravaganza, and Family Fun Days. The Grand Marshal Reception and White Winterfest Party are also among the most-awaited side events.
About the Festival
The Winterfest Boat Parade is held every second Saturday of December in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Over 100 boats, yachts and barges are decked with lights and even fireworks and promenade for 10-12 miles along the Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal Way which hugs the city’s entire coastline. There is varying theme year after year, so spectators can expect no two celebrations alike. Last year, on the 40th anniversary of Winterfest Boat Parade, the theme was “Rockin’ Boats and Holiday Floats” which earned more than a million spectators that came down from various parts of the country and the world. The boats are not only adorned with larger-than-life decorations and thousands of LED lights, but are also graced by local and national celebrities alike. Shaquille O’Neal was the grand marshal of the Parade in 2004; Barry Gibb of Bee Gees was the grand marshal last year.
The Parade itself is the culmination of a few days’ worth of events that celebrate the artistic and cultural achievements and legacies of Fort Lauderdale residents, a kind of festival-within-a-festival affair that gives much need venue to the area’s undiscovered talents.
Although Florida is famous for its warm climate while the other states up north freeze during winter, it is not improbable for the festival to be rained on (as what happened in 2009). So bring appropriate outdoor clothing when watching from the shoreline, ideally from Birch Park, or various restaurants that offer riverside seating. Else, book your trip with a hotel that affords unobstructed view to the parade; ideally hotels along the New River in Downtown and south of Las Olas. Getting on a chartered boat trip may look appealing, but revelers have been known to get stuck for hours aboard while the parade sails through.