Santa Claus announced “Make A Joyful Noise” as the theme for the 19th annual Punta Gorda Boat Parade sailing at 6 p.m. on Dec. 21.
“It’s an annual opportunity for the community to show its support by making a joyful noise that’s music to my ears”. Santa sais “I’ll be watching to make sure you bring noisemakers. Elves and reindeer especially like to hear sleigh bells, so don’t forget to bring those too.” he added.
This different, interactive, spectacular event extends over four bridgeless miles of the protected canals of Punta Gorda Isles. Spectators participate by bringing sleigh bells, tambourines, cow bells and tremendous applause creating a joyful noise, cheering for their favorite boats up close and personal as the flotilla glides by. “We’re uniquely different because spectators are up close to cheer and make a joyful noise as carolers, musicians and dancers entertain, less than 50 feet away” said Doug Buuck, parade vice-chairman. “Last year well over 12,000 spectators enjoyed the flotilla from numerous open viewing locations and from the countless private parties along the route. This is the big family holiday event where people plan parties a year in advance. It’s a fun parade where the floats actually do float.”
“Up close and personal with audience participation makes this a unique showcase community event with the largest participation on the Gulf Coast” said Harris Bowers, parade chairman. “With no entry fees, no judging, no prizes, no cash awards, no trophies, no official parade theme and no grand marshal, we’re commercial free. We don’t care how simple or fancy your decorations are. It’s just a relaxed, easygoing, fun parade with cheering spectators making joyful noises from the docks and seawalls. This interaction is all part of the fun.It’s truly all about the spirit of the season. This is what makes a Punta Gorda Christmas so very special.”
“Past years have seen the Grinch, lighted pelicans, sea dragons, dolphins, gingerbread men, Santa’s sleigh, menorahs, a firetruck and doves of peace. We have a boat featuring characters and props from the film A Christmas Story, and who can forget the wonderfully lit pig coming out of the stocking, the flying airplanes, the helicopter or the moving watering can and color changing poinsettia?” Buuck asked .
“We have trumpeters, dancing candy canes, carolers and even bagpipes. Folks come from miles away to join us for this once a year, unforgettable, magical night, the definite highlight of our holiday season” Bowers said.
Decorations on land
Many homeowners decorate especially for the parade, peaking on the Saturday night before Christmas Eve, the night decorations are at their fullest, and best seen by boat with lights multiplied by the reflection on the water. Be sure to bring your camera.
The decorated seawalls result in a well-lit parade route. Safe navigation is easy, following the other lighted boats. This year we have added lighted turn arrows. The Charlotte County Sheriff and City of Punta Gorda Police officially escort the parade.
Savvy boaters have friends help decorate their boat and then host a pre-parade raft-up at the assembly area on Saturday afternoon, sharing hors de oeuvres with other boaters. Invite your guests to be a part of the decorations with coordinated outfits, costumes and even props. Live music, carolers, themed characters, or dancers are popular additions to the light displays. Your guests will always remember this very special night cruise.
“Our website has all the necessary information for boaters and spectators, and is especially helpful to new boaters who are thinking of joining the event for the first time. We have a printable event map, decorating tips and an entry form at www.puntagordaboatparade.com” Bowers said.