BILOXI -- Santa Claus came to town Saturday night, but it wasn't by eight reindeer, or nine if you count the red-nosed one, pulling a sleigh. No, Santa was a maritime traveler in Biloxi's 30th annual Christmas on the Water boat parade.
The parade headed east from the Biloxi Lighthouse, then made a U-turn at Point Cadet before heading westward toward its point of origin.
Traffic on U.S. 90's eastbound lanes was basically at a standstill from the White House Hotel to the Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi.
Some beachcombers built bonfires along the waterfront, providing an amber glow against the dark horizon.
"We had 42 boats registered this year, which is up from last year," parade organizer Rusty David said.
David said one of the unique things about the parade may come as a surprise to spectators.
"We only decorate the left sides of the boats," he said. "People can't see the right sides because of the route.
"This way, everyone can spend all of their decorating money on one side of the boat."
One popular spot for watching the parade was atop of the parking garage at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Hundreds of people packed the upper deck to watch the decorated boats cruise the Mississippi Sound.
Some visitors to the Coast said they could not pass on the opportunity to see a Christmas parade on water.
"We're from Hattiesburg," Mandy Bailey said. "We were in town for the Mississippi Bowl (junior college championship football game) and we heard about the parade so we decided to check it
out. My son is really excited about it."
The Gomez family from Long Beach -- Justin, his wife, Jordan, and daughter, Arabella, 4, -- had not attended the parade in three years. Although Jordan was keeping warm in a houndstooth print jacket, she said she had to make a huge sacrifice to attend the parade.
"I'm missing the SEC Championship, and I'm a huge Alabama fan," she said.
Arabella, who was waiting to see Santa, had little to say about the water parade except, "Roll Tide."
The parade's light display moved from waterborne to airborne with a fireworks finale.