Does Anna Maria have an annual Christmas Boat Parade? Yes and no. There has been a lighted boat parade in previous years and as spectacular as they were there were a few times when the weather forecast didn’t jive with a pleasant evening and liability risk.
One year the planned parade was postponed based on a windy weather forecast and then turned out to be a decent evening, but the rescheduled date was not so benign, much to everyone’s disappointment.
Organizing a unknown number of private boats, providing a police escort, and hoping for good weather conditions becomes a challenging exercise. Anna Maria has not held an official local lighted boat parade for Christmas in several years.
However, the tradition of a lighted boat parade along the Grand Canal and up Bimini Bay to the Anna Maria City Pier is not so easily scuttled.
This year the evening was ideal with no wind and a mild temperature. Several power boats and sailboats with structures adorned with lights and ornamentation started at dusk and presented to anyone willing to turn away from their TV screens, a beautiful parade of Christmas cheer and music, traveling from near the Key Royale bridge, in and out of the Grand Canal, and up and out the channel to the City Pier in pitch-black moonless sky.
Those people who resided on the waterfront or dined at the Pier Cafe watched the unofficial parade clapped and cheered along with the enthusiastic participants.
For Anna Maria Island people who missed the local event, Bradenton and Cortez are holding their own versions on Dec 11th and 19th respectively.