From the highway to the waterway, Christmas came to town in Destin over the weekend

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

It was Christmas on parade over the weekend in Destin.  

With temperatures in the high-70s Saturday morning, people lined the streets in their Christmas T-shirts and other holiday attire to watch the more than 75 entries roll down Harbor Boulevard for a glimpse of Santa and to load up on candy. 

Then on Sunday evening, it was time to break out the Christmas sweaters with temperatures in the low 60s for the Holiday on the Harbor Destin Lighted Boat Parade. 

Destin High School mascot Bruce the shark led this year's Destin Christmas parade along with Principal Christine Cruickshank.

All week long, weather stations had predicted 70 to 80 percent chance of rain Saturday morning, but all was high and dry for the Jingle Bell Rock Christmas parade with thousands on hand. 

“The volunteer committee worked really hard to get everything together, and it really came off without a hitch,” said Helen Donaldson of the parade committee. 

Children scramble for candy during the Jingle Bell Rock Christmas parade in Destin on Saturday morning.

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“The weather was warm and the people were happy. We had some of the best-looking floats we’ve ever had,” Donaldson said. 

“Thanks to all of our sponsors and participants,” she added. 

The new Destin High School mascot Bruce the shark along with Principal Christine Cruickshank led the parade, followed by several other Destin High School groups such athletics, leadership and the fishing class. 

Legendary Boats with folks dressed up like the band Kiss rocked a float named Merry KissMas. They won the Crowd Pleaser award.

“We had fun,” Cruickshank said after the parade. 

The Destin High Band, along with the Fort Walton Beach Viking Band and Destin Middle School Band participated, as did the McGuire’s Irish Pub and Pipe Band. 

Altogether there were 77 entries in the street parade. 

The group from Shoreline Church break it down for a little dance routine during Destin's Christmas parade. Their theme was a Christmas Carole. They won the Religious Division.

Winners in the various divisions were: Civic Club — the Krewe of Bowlegs; Civic Children group — Destin Middle School cheerleaders; Religious — Shoreline Church and their Christmas Carole display; Commercial — Destin Water Users; Children Commercial — Rise Dance; and Crowd Pleaser — Legendary Boats and its Merry KissMass boat exhibit. 

On Sunday, the Holiday on the Harbor Destin Lighted Boat Parade sailed through Destin harbor as thousands of people lined the docks, restaurants and other establishments along the waterway. 

Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis tosses candy to spectators during Saturday's Christmas parade.

It was the 35th year for the boat parade, and it also went off without a hitch. 

“The Destin History and Fishing Museum is so proud to be a part of providing such a unique Christmas holiday tradition to those living and visiting when the boat parade occurs,” said Kathy Marler-Blue, executive director of the museum. 

“The tremendous community support from sponsors, restaurants and volunteers made it happen. And to top it off, the weather was perfect,” Blue said. 

Santa and Mrs. Claus wrapped up the Jingle Bell Rock Destin Christmas parade with a ride from the Destin Fire Department.

“A beautiful event with the lights on the boats and then the fireworks finale provided by HarborWalk Village really helped to get everyone in the Christmas spirit,” she added. 

Cyron Marler served as emcee for the event, and the judging took place from the upper deck of Margaritaville Restaurant.  

Capt. Royce Dahnke's boat Wassiya won Best Overall in Destin's lighted boat parade Sunday evening.

Twenty-five boats registered for the event, but there were a few others that were decorated for the occasion and paraded through the harbor as well. 

Capt. Royce Dahnke of the Wassiya took Overall Best Entry and was the winner of the Destin Harbor Heritage Award.  

Destin harbor was packed with people Sunday evening during the lighted boat parade.

When the Wassiya, which had numerous lights all over, passed by, Cyron Marler said he may have to give Clark Griswald (from the movie "Christmas Vacation") some of his lights back. 

Other winners in the various divisions were: Private 30-feet and Under — Big Gina; Private 31-feet and Over — Little A-Bee; Commercial 30-feet and Under — Destin Tikis, Boom, Shaka, Laka and Lono; Commerical 31-feet and Over — Swoop II; Tour Boat/Motorized 50-feet and Under — Island Girl; Tour Boat/Motorized 51-feet and Over — Hannah Marie; and Sailboat 30-feet and Under — Nice Tri.