If you have a boat and want to participate in one of the Coast's Christmas lighted boat parades, then what are you waiting for?
Organizers of two boat parades Saturday say it's not too late to join the party.
"This year, we're hoping for 40 or more boats," said Rusty David, the chairman of the Christmas on the Water Boat Parade, which this year celebrates its 30th year of parading the waters in Biloxi. "We're coming back slow and we're excited about having 40 to 45 boats."
Marty Orgeron, this year's parade captain of the Moss Point Christmas by the River, said about 25 boats participated in last year's event. He expects as many or more to take part Saturday.
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"Boaters can show up, as long as they are lit up," he said. "There are rules to follow, but I'd make sure everyone knows them. It's a Christmas parade -- show up and have a good time."
Big Biloxi weekend
In 1986, Biloxi's Christmas on the Water parade began with 28 boats. In 2004, the year before Hurricane Katrina, the parade had 86 boats, its highest number.
"In 2005, we had eight boats," David said. "We still did the parade. We still did the fireworks."
The parade will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday off the Biloxi peninsula and travel from the Biloxi Lighthouse to Point Cadet. A captains' and skippers' meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday
at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum at Point Cadet.
The boat parade is just one part of a big holiday weekend in the city. The annual Christmas on the Water Children's Parade begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Frank Gruich Center on Howard Avenue and makes its way to Town Green. About 300 children in kindergarten through third grade parade the streets or ride in wagons. At the Christmas on Town Green, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Santa will be there and give out goodies. Children can help decorate the city's tree and enjoy hot chocolate.
On Saturday, the Christmas in the City will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as vendors will line the Rue Magnolia and Water Street area and sell their specialty items.
Then all eyes turn to the boat parade -- and then to the skies.
"With the 30th anniversary," David said, "we'll have the biggest fireworks that the Christmas on the Water has ever had. Don't leave until you see the fireworks."
Also after the parade, at the Schooner Pier, one lucky registered boater will win a $1,000 drawing as a participation award.
For anything Christmas on the Water related, call David at 617-3112 or Mary Cruthirds at 388-7170.
Festivities in Moss Point
Spectators will gather Saturday in downtown Moss Point to kick off the holiday season and enjoy the boat show, which begins at 6 p.m. at the city docks. Boaters in decorated vessels will parade along the boardwalk. The last boat is reserved for a special visitor from the North Pole.
A captains' meeting will be at the M&M bank in Moss Point at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Attendance is not required, but is requested so boaters are aware of the safety guidelines and rules.
Boat parade participants should be at the Escatawpa River west of the Mississippi 613 bridge by 4:45 p.m. to begin lining up.
After the boat parade, fireworks will punctuate the evening.
The festivities are sponsored by the Moss Point Active Citizens.
Orgeron, who said this is his eighth year participating in the boat parade, is a self-described "weather fanatic." He said he has been looking at the long-range forecast for about two weeks.
"I'm looking at the fronts that are coming," he said. "I'll watch it every day and post updates (on the event's Facebook page)."
At this point, Saturday's forecast looks like South Mississippi will enjoy clear skies with a high of 64 and a low of 46. Perfect Christmas boat parade weather.