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Happy Holidays 2006

A spectacular spectacle of lights

Holiday boat parades set sail beginning this week.

By JON WILSON
Published December 6, 2006


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photo
[Times photo, 2005]
Decorated boats await the start of last year's MarineMax Lighted Boat Parade at the Municipal Pier in St. Petersburg. Look for this year's light show on Friday starting at 6:30 p.m.

  • Watch video from St. Petersburg's 2005 parade

  • Lighted boat parades are a spectator's treat. Bill Eibach will tell you they warm the hearts of the crustiest captain, too.

    "I tell you what really brings me back. We decorate the boat and take it out ... running out at the end of the Vinoy Basin, seeing all those people out at the end of the Pier, and clapping. It's really a lot of fun," the retired Air Force colonel said.

    Bill and Evie Eibach have been afloat in the yearly nautical lightfest for perhaps 15 years, Bill Eibach estimated.

    Friday, starting at 6:30 p.m., they'll muster with up to 50 other powerboats and sailboats for the MarineMax Lighted Boat Parade, a procession expected to last about two hours as it winds around the Pier and the basin.

    Optimum spectator points include both sides of the Pier at the end of Second Avenue NE.

    Other desirable viewing spots are Bayshore Drive between Second and Fifth Avenues NE and Vinoy Park at the end of Fifth. Some spectators like to gather at Spa Beach on the Pier's north side.

    On Monday, Bill Eibach was into his second day of decorating Miss Evie, a 32-foot powerboat named for his bride of 36 years.

    The Tanglewood resident said he'll spend 18-20 hours creating the display: a dolphin pulling Santa Claus in a sleigh.

    "I made it with bits and pieces I've bought in different places," he said.

    How many lights does he use? A lot.

    In fact, it was a challenge for him to enumerate them all.

    "I've got probably a dozen rope lights, six icicle lights, six regular lights . . .

    "We just keep adding to it every year. One of these days my generator is not going to support the lights," Eibach said.

    One of several downtown waterfront holiday traditions, the boat parade is in its 18th year, said Johanna L. Colegrove, the Pier's marketing coordinator.

    The event is free for spectators. Boaters enter by making a contribution to the Children's Dream Fund, an organization that since 1981 has been helping youngsters with serious medical problems realize their dreams through travel, gifts, or meetings with celebrities.

    Spots are still open for boaters interested in participating, Colegrove said. Fourteen awards are given out.

    For information, call (727) 821-6443.

    More boat parades

    Gulfport:  5:30 p.m. Saturday. Starts  at the entrance to Gulfport Marina, goes through channel at Broadwater , passes in front of the Gulfport Pier, continues to the Pasadena Yacht and Country Club, returns to the Boca Ciega Yacht Club.

    St. Pete Beach: 5:45 p.m. Saturday. Starts at Merry Pier at Eighth Avenue and Pass-a-Grille Way, heads north along the Intracoastal Waterway to 95th Street if weather permits, and returns via South Pasadena.

    Treasure Island: 6:20 p.m. Sunday. Leaves Treasure Island Tennis and Yacht Club Basin, passes through the Treasure Island Toll Bridge and ends at John’s Pass.

    Tierra Verde: sundown Dec. 13.  Leaves from Pass-a-Grille Harbor.Indian Rocks Beach:  7 p.m. Dec. 16. Leaves south of the Holiday Inn Harbourside, 401 Second St., and heads north under Indian Rocks Bridge to finish north of the Harbor Drive N Inlet.

    Indian Shores and Redington beaches: 6 p.m. Dec. 17. Leaves from north of the Tom Stuart Causeway and heads north to Indian Shores, ending at the Pub restaurant.

     

    [Last modified December 6, 2006, 12:50:16]


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