November 2006

Holidays Ahoy!

Boat Parades Light Up Arizona Waters

By Margie Anderson

Lake Mead

There is a long tradition in Arizona of decorating boats with lights to celebrate the holidays. At Lake Mead, boats lit up for the holidays have been parading past the shore since 1975, with a few breaks due to bad weather or high winds.

This year the Lake Mead Parade of lights will be held on Dec. 2.

There will be approximately 50 decorated boats from 16 feet to 75 feet leaving Las Vegas Boat Harbor at 6:30 p.m.

Awards will be presented in each of 10 classes, and there is no entry fee. Boats must be registered and safety inspected to be eligible for the parade.

The parade is sponsored by the Lake Mead Boat Owners Association, and you can contact them at (702) 373-4406 or see their Web site at to get an entry application and more details.

Good spots for watching the boat parade are along Boulder Beach and at the Special Events Beach. Both beaches are accessible by taking US 95 to Boulder City and turning left at the second stoplight (Buchanan). Head toward the lake on US 93 and take the Lake Mead turnoff.

Lake Mohave

The annual Lake Mohave Holiday Parade of Lights will be held on Dec. 9 at dusk at Katherine Landing. The boats will be available for viewing in the harbor area prior to the start of the parade. Registration forms are available at the motel office. Call (928) 754-3245.

Tempe Town Lake

The Tempe Town Lake APS Fantasy of Light Boat Parade will be held Saturday, Dec. 9. Beautiful Tempe Town Lake is the backdrop for this free holiday event, and there will be entertainment and fireworks, too. It all starts at 4 p.m. with free hands-on kidsí activities in Tempe Beach Park.

There will also be 50 tons of snow for kids' enjoyment, arts and crafts, and live entertainment on two stages. At 5 p.m., Santa arrives at the park by boat, and at 6 p.m. there is a Tuba Christmas concert at the main stage.

The Metro Light Railís Grand Illumination of the new Tempe Town Lake Bridge takes place at 6:55, and the Lighted Boat Parade starts at 7 with as many as 50 decorated boats.

A fireworks display is the grand finale.

Parker Area

Boats from both Arizona and California will light up for the annual holiday boat parade in the Parker area on Saturday, Nov. 25. The parade, beginning at dusk, will start at River Lodge, go down the river and end at the Blue Water Resort Casino.

There will be parties all along the route, Santa will be on board, and the festivities can be viewed from either side of the river. Anyone wishing to enter a boat in the parade may contact either Tommy Bonapache or Randy Hartless at (928) 669-2174.

There is no entry fee, and there will be awards and cash prizes for winning participants.

Lake Havasu City

Lake Havasu City also has a big holiday celebration. The Festival of Lights runs from Nov. 24 until New Yearís Day and features over a million lights decorating the structures under London Bridge. Santa Claus will be there for the kids to visit with, and caroling will fill the air with holiday sounds.

The 24th Annual Boat Parade of Lights at Lake Havasu will be Dec. 2-3 at 6 p.m. under the London Bridge. Admission is free. The boats will parade past and under the bridge.

Up to 50 brightly lit boats usually participate, and the parade gets more popular every year.

Canyon Lake

At Canyon Lake on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 4 to 5:30 p.m., the Dolly steamboat is having their annual Carol Cruise. Munch on delicious cookies, sip some hot apple cider or hot chocolate, and visit with Santa.

Then, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. is the Nautical Parade of Lights with approximately 30 boats decorated with Christmas lights. Enjoy the parade while you indulge in a prime rib and grilled chicken dinner aboard the Dolly steamboat as it leads the parade around Canyon Lake.

You will be entertained with joyful Christmas melodies. Both departures require pre-paid reservations, and you can call them at (480) 827-9144. Of course, you can watch the parade for free from shore or from your own boat.

Light Up Your Own Boat

If youíve got the urge to enter your boat in one of these parades, contact information below will help you get started. Most of the parades have entry forms online.

Lighting your boat is a lot of fun, but remember not to use lights that resemble navigation lights. Also, donít drive around the lake at night all lit up unless you are actually participating in a sanctioned parade.

You may have a parade of lights at a lake near you. Call your local marina and find out. If you decide to decorate your boat and join the fun, youíll need an inverter to make the Christmas lights run off your batteries.

Youíll want to make sure you donít overload the inverter, so visit your local marine store for advice and equipment. West Marine has inverters starting at around $80, and they also have online articles that will help you choose the right stuff.

Remember that if you plan to attend one of these events, be sure to dress appropriately. It may be mild during the day, but once the sun goes down, it can get cold in a hurry.