SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — From inflatable trees and reindeer to snowmen and bright strings of Christmas lights, several festive decorated boats will soon be sailing together from one coastal city to another.
The city of South Padre Island will host its annual Lighted Boat Parade tomorrow starting at 6 p.m.
The boats will launch out of South Point Marina in Port Isabel, follow the Intracoastal Waterway under the Queen Isabella Causeway and then parade toward Jim’s Pier on the Island at 211 West Swordfish Street.
Event organizers said the boats take about an hour to travel from Port Isabel to the Island and are estimated to arrive by 7 p.m.
They suggest spectators bring their lawn chairs and view the boat parade from the Island’s Entertainment District off Laguna Boulevard between Longboard Bar and Grill and Jim’s Pier.
According to Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Ed Caum, as of yesterday, 23 boats had been confirmed to participate and compete in the parade’s contest.
“This has been a longtime event and the city of South Padre Island has been involved for the last three years,” Caum said. “To me, the lights on the boats reflecting off the Laguna Madre are breathtaking.”
Each contestant is vying to be voted the “top boat” in their category and win a $500 cash prize or other prizes such as hotel night stays or gift cards from businesses on the Island.
“Everybody is a winner in the contest, actually,” Marisa Amaya, Convention & Visitors Bureau Events Development and Packaging Manager, said with a laugh and a smile. “We know how long it takes for them to decorate their boats and how hard they work on them so we actually give everybody a thank you gift.”
The categories for the contest are based on the size of participating boats and include a small to medium division, a medium to large division and a commercial division.
Sean Slovisky, owner and captain of Ka Motion Sailing Adventure, won first place in the commercial division last year.
“I felt excited to win last year,” he said. “It took a lot of hard work, but it paid off.”
Slovisky has been competing in the boat parade on and off for about the past six years.
“Usually, it takes us about two to three days to decorate,” he said. “We usually have quite a bit of Christmas lights on the boat.”
Slovisky said he plans to compete in the contest this year and hopes to win the title again.
“Seeing the looks on people’s faces when we come down the waterway and the camaraderie between all of the boaters is nice,” he said. “It really kicks off the holiday season.”
OTHER ISLAND CHRISTMAS EVENTS
Tonight, Friday, Dec. 6
• Tree Lighting Ceremony from 5 to 5:30 p.m., South Padre Island City Hall
• SPI Christmas Parade, 6 to 8 p.m., Mars Lane to Kingfish Street on Padre Boulevard
Saturday, Dec. 7
• Lighted Boat Parade, 6 p.m., The route begins at South Point Marina with judging at The Painted Marlin Grille
Sunday, Dec. 8
• Breakfast with Santa, 9 to 11 a.m., Hilton Garden Inn, Children 11 and under free, $3 ages 12 and over