By Sharon Still

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season is upon us and all of the wonderful community events that go with it. Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 3 for the 33rd Annual Alafia Lighted Boat Parade and Chili Cook-Off put on by The Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview.

This year’s lighted boat parade will kick off at Williams Park Boat Ramp, 9425 U.S. Hwy. 41 and the boats will travel down the river to the Diddy, circle around and make their way back to the final destination, River’s Edge Lounge & Marina, located at 6226 Ohio Ave. in Gibsonton, where there will be an awards ceremony.

Tammy and Rick Connolly, owners of Advanced Auto Air in Gibsonton, will be participating for their second year. “We’ve gone from watching it on friends’ docks over the years to now participating and it is so much fun,” said Tammy. “We love the Alafia Boat Parade and all the great people that come together to put it on.”

The Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview is partnering with the Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation Department to hold the Chili Cook-Off and viewing of the Boat Parade at the Riverview Civic Center, from 5-8 p.m. Santa will be on-site for photos with the children and local community vendors will be displaying their businesses.

“The Boat Parade is great community event because we are able to celebrate the season with an event unique to our natural resources, our rivers, in particular,” said Dr. Kim Tyson, chairman of the Boat Parade Committee for the Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview. “Everyone can enjoy the decorated boats and taste some great chili in our cook-off, which engages our community to participate on many levels.”

There are still spots available for vendors as well as sponsorship opportunities.  All proceeds from this event will fund charitable projects such as our Clean Water and Latrine Project in Honduras, Friends of the County Parks, Head Start Reading, ECHO, Brandon Outreach Clinic and scholarships for local high school seniors, among others.

Boaters interested in participating in the Boat Parade this year, should contact Mike Broussard at Boaters are asked to make a $25 donation while members of the community are also encouraged to show their support by making donations. For more information, contact Dr. Tyson at

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