29 November 2021
FLORIDA KEYS — Santa is likely to arrive in the Florida Keys by schooner instead of by sleigh, traveling with a team of dolphins rather than reindeer — at least during the festive lighted boat parades that enliven the Keys’ holiday season.
Boat parades from Key Largo to Key West are to illuminate the waters around the island chain, featuring decorated vessels ranging from majestic tall ships to fishing craft and tiny skiffs. Captains and crews typically “deck the hulls” with everything from traditional lights and greenery to offbeat Yuletide salutes.
Visitors can revel in the Keys holiday spirit by viewing the parades from local harbors and hotspots, or even become part of the festivities by adorning their own boats with dazzling lights and eye-catching decorations.
Following is a roster of boat parades slated throughout the island chain.
Saturday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m.
Kiki’s Lighted Boat Parade (Lower Keys)
All vessels are welcome to participate in this family-friendly Lower Keys event presented by Kiki’s Sandbar, located at 183 Barry Ave. on Little Torch Key. Revelers of all ages — and even their canine companions — can celebrate the holidays by watching lighted and decorated craft promenade around Newfound Harbor in front of Kiki’s. Live music and a confirmed appearance by Santa are to round out the seasonal merriment. For more information, speak with one of Kiki’s bartenders at 305-872-4500.
Saturday, Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m.
Key Largo Boat Parade (Key Largo)
Boats of all sizes are to show off festive decorations in a lively procession of vessels on Key Largo’s Blackwater Sound. Presented by the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, the parade is to be themed “Nauty-cal & Nice!” in salute to the community’s lighthearted holiday spirit. Spectators can enjoy the fun from viewing spots at Sundowners, Cactus Jack’s, Señor Frijoles, the Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort and Caribbean Club, all around mile markers 103-104. For more information, visit keylargoboatparade.com.
Saturday, Dec. 11, 8 p.m.
Schooner Wharf Bar/Absolut Vodka Lighted Boat Parade (Key West)
Decorated dinghies, fishing craft and classic tall ships are to light up the Key West Historic Seaport and harbor areas during the 30th annual Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade. Spectators can view the dozens of creatively bedecked vessels from the Schooner Wharf, the parade’s headquarters where the judges stand is located, and from other bars, restaurants and resorts on and around the seaport’s harborwalk and docks. Festivities including steel band performances begin at 6 p.m. Visit schoonerwharf.com.
Sunday, Dec. 12, Dusk
Key Colony Beach Holiday Lighted Boat Parade (Marathon Area)
Spectators can applaud vividly lit boats in the Middle Keys at the Key Colony Beach Lighted Boat Parade. Typically featuring boats ranging from kayaks to 55-foot yachts, the parade is set to start at the 7th Street canal and wind its way through canals and cuts. The best viewing spots include the Sadowski Causeway at mile marker 53.5 and the dock area behind city hall. Visit kcbca.org/boatparade.htm or facebook.com/keycolonybeachca.
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
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