Destin parades by land and by sea

Tina Harbuck

This weekend is Christmas parade weekend for Destin. Saturday is the street parade down U.S. Highway 98 then on Sunday the boats get in on the parade action on Destin harbor.


Saturday morning at 10 a.m. the 35th edition of the Destin Christmas Parade will hit the streets.

“We have 90 entries with more coming in,” said Helen Donaldson, co-chairman of the parade committee.

The theme for this year’s parade, which will roll down U.S. 98 is Santa’s Workshop. The parade will line up in the parking lot at Ole Time Pottery and head west down the boulevard to the Destin Community Center.

This year’s parade has two grand marshal’s, long-time resident and volunteer Dot Jones and Juarate Burns and family, who will represent Matt Burns who passed away earlier this year.

“There will be lots of elves and toys,” Donaldson said, in keeping with the theme.

As a matter of fact, there will be a float made entirely out of toys. Word is the float will be left at the Community Center with the toys being donated for the toy drive.

Participants in the parade are asked to donate a toy.

Included in the 90 entries is the Fort Walton Beach High Viking band along with the Destin Middle School marching band. The schools will also be represented with their cheering squads.

New to this year’s parade is an entry from the organizers of the new Destin High School, which is scheduled to open in 2020.

Several area churches will have entries.

“We have a good representation from the churches,” Donaldson said.

Miss Destin Brooke O’Keefe will ride in the parade as well as Billy Bowlegs and the Krewe of Bowlegs and the Mardi Gras Krewe.

"It’s going to be a fun parade,“ Donaldson said.

“Let’s cross our fingers for good weather,” she said, noting there is no rain date for the event.

And of course, Santa will make an appearance atop one of the Destin firetrucks.


The 33rd annual Holiday on the Harbor Lighted Boat Parade, sponsored by the Destin History and Fishing Museum and Margaritaville, is set to sail at 6 p.m. Sunday on Destin harbor.

There are 10 categories for boats to enter, including private boats, sailboats and even tour boats.

There will be various awards given out in the different divisions with a Best Overall and a City of Destin Heritage Award.

As of Monday there were only 11 boats registered.

But not to fret, there will most likely be more.

“We always get boats signing up just a couple of days right before,” said Kathy Marler-Blue of the Fishing Museum.

Boats can register right up to Saturday. Cost for entry is $25 per boat.

Where’s the best advantage point to watch the boat parade?

The parade is visible anywhere along the harbor from Grand Harbor Condo to the Destin bridge.

Judging will take place at Margaritaville, so the boats will pause a bit there for the judges.

“This is such a unique Destin holiday tradition, but we rely on folks to register to be a part of the event,” Marler-Blue said. “The more the merrier.”

For more information or to register, call 837-6611.