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Santa on a Boat: 13 Christmas Boat Parades on Alabama’s Waterways

Boat owners in Alabama have a tradition of getting into the Christmas spirit, and indeed, December 2022 brings many lighted boat parades to the state’s waterways.

They won’t all be along the coast either, as the summary below shows.

Readers should note that these events run the gamut from city-sponsored, formally organized events with mandatory registration to the traditions of friends and neighbors at grass-roots level. If you’re considering attending, it’s generally a good idea to check with the organizers rather than trying to just show up. Entry rules vary from place to place: along the coast, for example, promoters generally encourage participants not to attempt to throw Mardi Gras-style trinkets at spectators due to the likelihood of creating a littering problem.

If you know of another event that deserves to be included on this list, email details to [email protected] Please include links to websites, Facebook pages or email addresses where interested parties can find information.

The parades:

Gadsden area: Coosa Christmas Boat Parade, December 2nd

Gadsden’s annual Coosa Christmas Boat Parade, sponsored by the Neely Henry Lake Association, begins at 6:00pm on Friday, December 2nd after the Christmas tree has been lit at City Hall. For information, visit the Neely Henry Lake Association page on Facebook or call Victory Marine at (256) 490-5959.

Christmas by the river

A scene from Christmas by the River in Demopolis.

Demopolis: Christmas by the River, December 3rd

Demopolis takes this seriously, with a series of events beginning on November 25th and culminating with an all-day blowout on Saturday, December 3rd. Visit www.christmasontheriverdemopolis.com for the full schedule. The nautical parade begins at 6pm on the Tombigbee River and is followed by fireworks. Visit www.facebook.com/ChristmasontheRiverdemopolis for the latest information.

Selma: Rockin’ on the River Boat Parade, December 4th

Selma’s Christmas Movies in Alabama themed boat parade begins Sunday, December 4 at 6 p.m. and leads to a fireworks display in Riverfront Park, capping a full weekend of holiday celebrations. Online registration lasts until Friday, December 2, 2 p.m.; There is a $25 fee to participate. See the registration page for full rules.

Mobile: Christmas by the River, December 10th

The Grand Mariner Restaurant and Marina is hosting the 48th Annual Christmas on the River Parade on the Dog River on Saturday, December 10 at 5 p.m. This year’s theme is “Caroling on the River”. Viewing areas include the Grand Mariner’s upper deck (reservations required) and the ground floor Dock & Bar, where burgers and hot dogs are available. After the event, there will be an awards ceremony in the party room of the Grand Mariner. For registration information, email [email protected] or call 251-599-5260.

Gulf Shores-Orange Beach: LuLu’s Lighted Boat Parade, December 10th

Bats will depart LuLu’s and Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores at dusk on Saturday, December 10th and travel across the Intracoastal Waterway to The Wharf in Orange Beach. Visit lulusfunfoodmusic.com for online registration.

Birmingham area: Lay Lake Christmas Boat Parade, December 10th

The organizers recently issued a call for more boats and welcomed anyone interested to get in touch. The Itinerary: Beeswax Creek Park, 5:15 p.m.; Paradise Point Marina, 5:50 p.m.; Cedar Creek, 6:30 p.m.; Okomo Marina, 7 p.m.; Bozo’s Marina, 7:35pm For information on how to join, email [email protected] or inquire on Facebook.

Guntersville: Lights by the Lake, December 10

The Lights on the Lake Christmas Boat Parade begins December 10 at 5:30 p.m. with the lineup between Guntersville Marina and the City Harbor. For complete information, including registration details and a route map, visit guntersvillelightsonthelake.com.

Dauphin Island: DIPOA Christmas Boat Parade, December 10th

The island’s annual parade, organized by the Dauphin Island Property Owners Association, takes place on December 10th. Keep an eye on Facebook for more information. Interested parties can contact Board Member Dennis Knizley at [email protected] or 251-432-3799.

Mobile: Kayak with Keve Illuminated Kayak Parade, December 12

Kayak with Keve is a Facebook group that invites kayakers out on a beginner-friendly evening trip down the Dog River most Mondays. For the December 12 event, which begins at 5 p.m., participants are encouraged to decorate their ships with Christmas lights. The boat launch at Navco Park/Dog River Park provides easy access to the launch point at a nearby private home; Bring snacks and a $5 item for a post-paddle party with thrift store Dirty Santa if you like.

Birmingham Area: Christmas Afloat on the Black Warrior River, December 17th

This annual Bankhead Lake event usually passes and/or visits points of interest including Point Lounge, Quinn’s Landing, Franklin Ferry, River Bend and Howton’s Camp. At press time, information was sparse; Visit the Warrior River Living Facebook group for updates.

Baldwin County: Pirates of Fish River Christmas Parade, December 17

The boats will queue at the Weeks Bay Reserve Tonsmeire Resource Center near the US 98 bridge for a 5:00 p.m. departure and proceed upstream to the bridge at Baldwin 32. Popular vantage points include Big Daddy’s Grill on Ferry Road. Interested participants are asked to email [email protected]; Attendance at a captains meeting tentatively scheduled for December 15 is required. Please visit the event page on Facebook for the latest information.

Mobile: Fowl River Christmas Boat Parade, December 17

“Meet at dusk at the north end of the river near the no-wake zone. Parade down river to the bridge. Please do not throw objects on docks. Departing the dock at 5:00 p.m. Merry Christmas!” Visit the Fowl River Christmas Boat Parade page on Facebook for the latest information.

Bayou La Batre: 5th Annual Lighted Boat Parade, December 18th

Hosted by Daryl & Christina Steiner, this event begins Sunday, December 18th at 6:00pm at Lightning Point, travels to the turning pool in front of Marshall Marine Supply and returns to Lightning Point. Pictures with Santa Claus and other celebrations start at 4:30 am; You might even find shrimp spaghetti. For updates, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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