Calling all boats: Museum gets ready for floating parade

The crew aboard the party boat Swoop II show off their Christmas spirit at last year’s boat parade.

In just a few weeks it will be time to trade in the rod and reels for lights and wreaths as boaters prepare to set sail Dec. 15 in the 27th annual Holiday on the Harbor Lighted Boat Parade sponsored by the Destin History and Fishing Museum.

"It's the museum’s gift to the community," said Kathy Marler Blue of the Destin History and Fishing Museum.

Although the boat parade doesn't begin until 6 p.m., folks are encouraged to start finding their spot along the harbor early.

"People start finding seats along the harbor around 2 or 3 o'clock," said Dan Empson, museum board member and owner of Harry T's on the harbor. Harry T's Restaurant will be the site of the awards at the end of the parade.

Festivities will be held throughout the afternoon all along the harbor with the lighted boat parade setting sail at 6 p.m. with judging taking place upstairs at Harry T's.

Boats will line up in the harbor between 5 and 5:30 p.m. and the parade can be viewed from the docks and restaurants west of Grand Harbor Condominiums on Destin harbor. Following the boat parade a firework show will light up the sky over the harbor.

Capt. Jim Green of the New Florida Girl's American Spirit, a 92-foot party boat, said he always enjoys the boat parade.

"It gives us a chance to gather down at the docks during the offseason," Green said.

The lighted boat parade is for boats of all sizes and types.

Categories that boaters can enter are private 30-feet and under, private 31-feet and over, charter/commercial 30-feet and under, charter/commercial 31-feet and over, tour boat/motorized, sailboat 30-feet and under, and sailboat 31-feet and over. Entry fee is $25 per boat.

Prizes will be awarded in each category. Glass trophies holding a picture of your boat and restaurant gift certificates, plus an additional best overall award will be presented.

Entry forms can be picked up at the museum, Destin Community Center, Destin City Hall or Destin Chamber of Commerce.

In case of bad weather, the event will be held on Dec. 22.

For more information, call 837-6611.