By Kelly Legg
This year marks the 29th annual Alafia Lighted Boat Parade, scheduled to take place on Saturday, December 1 from 5-9 p.m. As usual, the parade will light up the waterway with holiday cheer and festivity sure to delight the whole family. This local tradition is a fantastic way to start off your family’s holiday season.
Hundreds of residents are expected to gather at the International Independent Showmen’s Association in Gibsonton to see the boat parade, sponsored by the Rotary Club of FishHawk/Riverview. The decorated boats will travel down the Alafia River from the U.S. Hwy. 41 bridge at Williams Park to the U.S. Hwy. 301 bridge and back.
In addition to watching the decorated boats parade up and down the Alafia River, spectators can enjoy at chili cook-off, refreshments, free photos with Santa, a silent auction and 50/50 raffle and music. There will also be kid’s rides and activities.
According to Dr. Kimberly Tyson, co-chair of the event, the nice thing about this annual event is that it has something special in store for everyone. “As always we will have kids’ activities, including face painting and bouncy houses, games and entertainment,” said Tyson. “Besides the lighted boats, one of my favorite parts of this event is the free photo with Santa for the children and the chili cook-off”
Decorated boats are given the opportunity to compete for prize money. There are two boat entry divisions: large boats of 23 ft. and above and small boats 22 ft. and below. Cash prizes totaling $1,500 will be divided among the first and second place winners in each division. To enter the competition, boat owners must complete the form found on the Rotary’s Website at www.fishhawkriverviewrotary.org.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the Rotary’s college scholarship program, which assists students at Newsome, Riverview and Spoto high schools. More than $3,000 was raised last year.
This is a free event. International Independent Showmen’s Association is located at 6915 Riverview Dr., in Riverview. For more information and applications to enter the boat parade or chili cook-off, visit www.fishhawkriverviewrotary.org. or call 267-0107.