Harrison County

Coast boat parades ‘just a wonderment to watch’

Lighted boats dazzle the waterfront during Christmas on the Water in Moss Point in 2009.
Lighted boats dazzle the waterfront during Christmas on the Water in Moss Point in 2009. Courtesy Bernadette Cuevas

The Mississippi Coast’s natural resources shine perhaps their brightest before Christmas as boat parades illuminate waterways, the night sky and even city streets.

Three parades are scheduled for Saturday in Biloxi, Long Beach and Moss Point. Christmas in the Bayou in Gulfport has announced its parade will be Dec. 10.

“It’s just a wonderment to watch all the boats,” said Melanie Clark of the Bayou Bernard Boat Club, sponsor of Christmas on the Bayou. “It’s so amazing to see all the ideas the boaters come up with.”

Of the four boat parades, only one is not on the water, but on city streets.

The boats come close enough to the shore that the boaters can interact with people viewing them. And quite a few residents along the route hold Christmas parties, inviting others to view the parade from their yards.

Melanie Clark of Christmas on the Bayou in Gulfport

Two of Saturday’s parades will feature free activities before the parades.

Christmas by the River

Moss Point’s boat parade caps of a day of activities. The boat parade is at the Riverfront Dockside. Start time is 6:15 p.m. and fireworks are at 7 p.m. The day’s events begin with Breakfast with Santa at 10 a.m. at the Moss Point Recreation Center. There’s also a parade from Southgate Mall to the Riverfront at 3 p.m.; and a tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at the Riverfront Welcome Center along with holiday music.

Long Beach boat street parade

Sea Santa Sail-a-Bration in Long Beach has a boat parade that rolls at 5:30 p.m. followed by fireworks. The parade is the Mississippi Coast’s only waterless boat parade. Boaters trailer their decorated boats in a parade from Jeff Davis Avenue to the Harper McCaughan Town Green, where other activities will begin at 4:30 p.m. There’s crafts and entertainment. The Long Beach Middle School band and choir perform. And Santa shows up at the end of the festivities.

Biloxi’s boat parade

The 31st annual Christmas on the Water Boat Parade in Biloxi starts at 6 p.m. Boats will sail across the Mississippi Sound starting just south of the Biloxi Lighthouse and ending at Point Cadet. The parade ends with fireworks. Best viewing areas are between the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and Casino Row, and between the Biloxi Lighthouse and Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.

Tickets are available for those who wish to ride a Biloxi schooner in that parade. Boarding starts at 4 p.m. at the Biloxi Schooner Pier Complex and the schooner departs at 4:30 p.m. It will return to the dock after Biloxi’s fireworks. For details, call 228-435-6320 or visit maritimemuseum.org.

Views of the Biloxi Christmas on the Water boat parade from the Biloxi Schooner Glenn L. Swetman

Gulfport’s boat parade

Christmas on the Bayou in Gulfport on Dec. 10 will provide bleachers at several locations. The parade has twice been named a Top 20 Event by the Southeastern Tourism Society.

The 15th annual parade starts at 6 p.m. on Gulfport Lake between The Dock Bar & Grill off Seaway Road and the public boat ramps on the south side of the lake. Boats meander down Bernard Bayou to the mouth of the bayou at Big Lake. Boats should reach the Cowan-Lorraine Bridge about 7:30 p.m. and travel across the Industrial Canal, returning to The Dock on the shore’s north side.

“The boats come close enough to the shore that the boaters can interact with people viewing them. And quite a few residents along the route hold Christmas parties, inviting others to view the parade from their yards,” Melanie Clark said.

Viewing areas with bleachers will be at The Dock; Blow Fly Inn; the foot of the Cowan-Lorraine Road Bridge (Kremer’s Landing); and John Hill Park. The park, off Switzer Road, has 2 miles of boardwalk and ample parking. And it will be less crowded, she said.

There’s a new viewing area on Dolphin Drive, but bleachers won’t be available.

About 66 boaters have registered, the same number as last year. But when registration ends Thursday, there could be even more, Clark said.

The event features prizes for best-decorated boats and best-decorated homes along the route. To register, call 228-896-4869 or visit christmasonthebayou.org. Or you can register at the captains’ party at The Dock from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday

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