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- Tequesta, Florida, United States
Be Merry & Bright
JUPITER, FL – October, 2017 – The holidays are a time for cheerful moments spent with family, festive celebrations, and, most importantly, a time for giving; whether it be to lending a hand to a neighbor or donating to charity. Each year, there is an event in our community that brings all of these elements together and connects our neighborhood in more than one way. And on this night, Santa won’t be coming down the chimney, but rather up the Intracoastal Waterway.
For the past 23 years, the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County (MIAPBC) holds the Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade wherein residents and businesses of neighboring cities come together to put on their creative caps and decorate their boats with strings of lights and Christmas-inspired ornaments. While blasting favorite holiday carols for viewers to enjoy and sing along to, the parade glides up the Intracoastal from North Palm Beach to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Although this event is one that is most looked forward to in Palm Beach County, it is more than just the glitz and glam.
Since 1999, the MIAPBC has collaborated with the U.S. Marines Reserves Toys for Tots organization collecting tens of thousands of new, unwrapped gifts for local children in need. As of last year, a whopping number of 10,000 toys were donated. Their goal is to spread the gift of Christmas spirit to children who may not be able to experience it otherwise. This year, as an effort to extend the joy of the holidays to more children and families, MIAPBC joined forces with Little Smiles, a local children’s charity.
Last year, 10,000 toys were donated to local children and families in need
“Many years ago we decided it was important to implement a charitable factor into the parade to benefit children and families who may need help during the holidays,” says Alyssa Freeman, chair of the Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade and operations director of MIAPBC. “This year, we chose to join together with Little Smiles to keep with the theme of giving toys and gifts, but also because they do a lot of good for the people in our community not only during the holidays, but throughout the entire year.”
A “toy fleet” of boats filled with volunteers and uniformed Marines will travel along the parade route making dockside pickups. In order to donate, all you need to do is wave a flashlight when you see a boat with a flashing amber beacon or a Toys for Tots sign, and voila! For those who are unable to attend the parade, several businesses from Boca Raton to Stuart will have Little Smiles boxes throughout their respective communities weeks before and after the Christmas event to help make donations more convenient. If you are interested in becoming a collection site, there is a form on the Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade’s website that business owners can fill out to request approval. All of the names and addresses of collection sites can be found on the website as well.
There are a variety of great waterfront locations along the parade route, which begins on the Intracoastal in North Palm Beach with the grand finale at the Jupiter Lighthouse.
“There are about 100 donation sites around Palm Beach County, and we also have many sponsors who donate to help put on the parade. This event is a way for families to teach their children that the holidays are more than festive celebrations, but a time to give back to their communities,” explains Freeman.
The Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade will be held on Saturday, December 2 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Long-time Grand Marshals Mo and Sally from KOOL 105.5 and Honorary Grand Marshal Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti will be joining the parade on the Loggerhead Marina Grand Marshal Boat to kick off the holiday season, following behind the traveling fireworks display that leads the parade. All residents are invited to enter their vessels into the parade free of charge and are automatically entered to win up to $10,000 in cash and prizes. The judges will choose the top three boats in each category: Lights, enthusiasm, and overall effect, including the grand prize of $500 cash to the “best overall boat.” So turn your holiday spirit on and get your decorations ready for a night you won’t want to miss. Happy holidays!