Welcome to the most interactive, fun and spectacular display of Christmas Spirit on the Gulf Coast !
Punta Gorda Isles Christmas Boat Parade has become a time honored community tradition. Spectators, folks who live along the parade routes and boaters all arrange their holiday schedules to take part in this wonderful home town spectacle of joy, warmth and festivity, and to share the spirit of the season with our community.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL !
Six miles of 100′ wide protected canals lined with enthusiastic spectators 50′ away, cheering on boats decorated with lights, music, action and sound and most importantly, the essential human component of the interaction between the crews and spectators are he essential ingredients that make this parade so very special.
The beautifully decorated boats and homes along the parade route are just the icing.
Being on a boat provides your crew the advantage of enjoying six miles of cheers, beautifully decorated waterfront homes and lots of beautifully decorated boats, many with carolers, dancers, musicians, singers or other action. Simply put; the Boaters are there for the cheering spectators, who are there to support, share and enjoy boaters’ show in the spirit of the season.
Simple decorations and lights are just as welcome as the ornate, and with a bit of planning, a boat can be nicely decorated in one day. We can show you how at the Free Decorating Workshop, or simply take a look at our DECORATING TIPS page for more information.
Well decorated, silent boats with stoic crews will not elicit the crowd’s enthusiasm as will the boats full of people having fun with music and enthusiastic carolers a musician, or dancers with everyone wearing a costume. Something as simple as matching elf hats will wow the crowd. Musical instruments TALENT CONNECTIONS a stereo or a simple boom box with “D” size batteries for music with sound specifically aimed at the crowd will also elicit cheers. Your onboard crew will have a great time and as the Captain and host, you get to provide your crew with a view of all the other boats, and the sight of all the gaily decorated homes together, reflecting on the water. This makes for an event your guests will not ever forget. Spectators bring sleigh bells, cow bells and noisemakers, give them a reason to applaud, cheer and make a joyful noise.
REQUIREMENTS: All boats, whose overall length is greater than 16’ who can make 5 kts are welcome. For safety reasons, no kayaks, dinghies, canoes or self propelled vessels will be accepted.
OFFICIAL SIGNBOARDS REQUIRED: ALL PARTICIPATING VESSELS ARE REQUIRED TO DISPLAY OFFICIAL LIGHTED SIGN BOARDS, provided by the Punta Gorda Isles Community Association. Signs may be picked up at the PGICA offices after registration. Those who cannot get their signs earlier may pick them up at the Mandatory Captains Meeting. These must be affixed to your boat so they can be seen from the front, sides and aft. Now parading boaters will can easily follow the well marked participating boats. Your friends on shore can look through the extensive colored lights for your number and be ready to greet you enthusiastically. If some unmarked boat barges into the parade, it will be easily identified to on site law enforcement officials.
NON-COMMERCIAL: Commercial or political displays, banners, audio or signage is not permitted. Charitable organizations, non-profits and local service clubs are welcome.
PROJECTILES: No candy or other objects are to be thrown or otherwise distributed to or from the crowds or boats.
DOCK SPACE: is available for registered boaters both before and after the parade. No need to travel in the dark. You can arrive a day or so ahead, and leave a day or so after the parade. Dock space is based on availability, so make your arrangements now.
Contact Harris Bowers at Forcefield Hurricane Protection Systems 941-625-2295 to make arrangements on a first come-first served basis.
PARADE BASICS: The parade starts at dark about 6:00 PM on Saturday.
First time Paraders not familiar with the PGI canal system should consider doing a dry run before the parade, with the Parade route on board.
A number of Captains choose to join our organized pre-Parade dry run, using the vessels onboard GPS to leave a trail of “breadcrumbs” as a very valuable navigation tool in the darkness of Parade night. The day and time of this event will be announced at the annual Captains Meeting.
There are two ways to travel to the Parade start. You can arrive from the west and enter through Ponce inlet, with the advantage of no bridges, or come in from the north via the Tarpon Inlet canal running north/south along side of Colony Point Drive, under the Marion Avenue bridge, with an approximate clearance of 13′ 6″. As you enter PGI from Ponce Inlet intersection, the first canal south is the rim canal. Follow the route chart to the Albatross assembly area. It’s a good idea to print this page of BOATER INFORMATION as well as the PARADE ROUTE to take along with you.
COMMUNICATIONS: Parade communication is on Channel 72. The Punta Gorda Police patrol boats also monitor 72 and 16.
ASSEMBLY & PRE-PARADE: The Parade assembles in Albatross Lagoon and the other adjoining lagoons surrounding the condominiums in that area.
There are docks available under control of the Parade Dockmaster who communicates on Channel 72. Many boats will anchor in the lagoon or raft up with friends well ahead of the Parade start. Rafting boats supply lines and fenders. Be careful of decorations. The water is deep around the seawall in Albatross Lagoon and there are no known obstructions. Many participants arrive early and raft up to meet and greet and share hors d’oeurvres and an eggnog with friends. If you have no onboard “head” this is an opportunity for you and your guests to share someone else’s, however prior arrangements are a very wise idea.
FORMATION & PARADE GATEKEEPER: The first boat in the Parade always carries the word JOY to announce the Parade to the awaiting spectators. For 2016 it is TomCat, a C-Dory 25 foot catamaran. For 2016, the last boat in the parade is Route 66, a 46 foot Dolphin
sailing catamaran, with a 24 foot beam.
The Gatekeeper is a 33′ Trojan International express cruiser with the theme “A CHRISTMAS STORY” which will be anchored up just south of Albatross Lagoon. Boats can queue up beginning at at 6:00 PM behind TomCat and will take direction from the GATEKEEPER
as you are sequenced into the parade. We prefer to alternate sailboats and powerboats. Be sure to get in ahead of Route 66. Just queue in behind any boat that suits you, and make certain to be on VHF channel 72 with your signboards visible to the GATEKEEPER.
SPACING: There should be a minimum four building lot spaces between each boat, about 300 feet. Give the spectators time to see and photo your boat. It is, however critical to keep the boat in front of you in sight at all times as we don’t want spectators to think the parade is over. If a large gap appears between you boat and the preceding vessel, do not speed up too quickly to close the gap. This would cause an accordion effect and would soon mean some boats would come to a stop. The parade moves at just enough speed to maintain steerage and will never exceed 4-5 knots. At tight turns, boats do slow down, however they soon catch up at a slow speed, as all the boats will be slowing at each turn.
TURNS: Other than the obvious turns at Parade start, Sunset lake and Ponce Inlet, all turns feature flashing red arrow markers.
which make following the route easier than ever.
Flashing Hazard Markers:
ROUTE: The route leaves the assembly area and proceeds to Sunset Lake where it joins the rim canal. There are many viewing areas in this first part starting with the Bal Harbor area adjoining the Assembly Area. The route moves from side to side of the canals to accommodate the largest crowds at those locations. We do not go just down the center of these broad canals. Play to the folks along the route. They will reward your “theater” with a joyful noise, however do not change your speed as this will cause an “accordion” affect for the entire parade.
The route turns right into LaCosta Island Lagoon. This broad canal has the large crowds on many vacant lots. We proceed to the end of the lagoon and make a 180 degree turn and return to the rim canal.
Entering Yellowfish Lagoon turn right and follow the canal off the lagoon. That canal turns left into the canal known as Amberjack Strait. Follow the canal until the first left hand turn and turn left. This canal is known as Whiting Cove. Proceed to the end and turn around. Return back the way you came.
Proceed counterclockwise around the lagoon playing to the crowds until the Parade end at the entrance of the Ponce Inlet Canal. You may leave Yellowfish Lagoon at the end of the Parade. Police will block the return canal to Ponce inlet to allow for the safe passage of larger boats.
LEAVING THE PARADE ROUTE: In the event you need to leave the parade route for an emergency, or other reason, PLEASE TURN OFF your decorative lights & identification signboards so others will not inadvertently follow you off the Parade route.
SPECTATOR BOATS: Every year more spectator boats visit the Parade route. Although law enforcement will encourage them to yield to the parade, be vigilant and aware that they may show up, tied to a dock, or idling along the route.
THIS IS A SHOW- PLAY TO THE CROWDS
- The only way to make a grand entrance is to leave a gap of four lots (300 feet) ahead of your boat.
- Following too closely makes your boat look like a freight car on a train.
- Equip your crew with bells or noisemakers
- Interact and respond to the crowds, BUT DO NOT SLOW YOUR PARADE SPEED
- Do not stop the show to talk to friends, discharge or pick up passengers.
WEATHER: The parade will go on unless canceled by Parade Control on VHF Channel 72. Check the website for up to date information. The protected canals of PGI are not adversely affected by severe tides or winds. The anchoring area at Albatross Lagoon may be affected by high winds. If the weather is less than the best, Parade Control may advise alternate anchoring areas, circling in the adjoining larger water areas or using docks available by the Dockmaster. Check with Parade Control on VHF 72 for details.
FINAL INSTRUCTIONS: The PG Police will be traveling the entire route on Wednesday to insure that there are no unexpected route problems. If necessary, last minute issues will be distributed to you on Friday by email.
Be alert at the helm and maintain an adequate distance between yourself and the boat ahead. Leave the partying and drinking until you are back in the slip.
Encourage your crew to bring sufficient warm clothing, as it can get cold quickly on the water.
We strongly suggest printing a copy of this page and the parade route map to take along.