MANATEE -- New York is the home of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Rose Parade belongs to Pasadena, Calif.
But in Manatee, residents can boast about the Holiday Boat Parade.
“It really has become a family tradition for our community,” said parade chairwoman Kim Bailey.
On Saturday, 19 boats decorated with Christmas lights, inflatable statues and Christmas trees, participated in the 14th annual Holiday Boat Parade.
The boats began the route at the Bradenton Yacht Club, headed to Tarpon Pointe and then returned to the yacht club.
Five judges chose the winners, basing their decisions on crew spirit, audience participation and creativity. There were five categories: 40 feet and over, 39 feet and under, 30 feet and under, commercial and nonprofit.
One by one, the boats -- their colorful lights reflected on the dark water -- made their way back to the yacht club. One boat had inflatable decorations of Santa. A Christmas tree with presents adorned the deck of another.
Pat Bustle, captain of Liquid Asset, said he’s participated in the parade for about six years. Bustle said it took about five hours to decorate his boat.
“It’s a good opportunity to just kind of show off your boat and have a good time,” he said.
Bill Carlson of Palmetto was among the spectators. It was his first time seeing the parade.
“I think it’s just fantastic,” Carlson said as he watched the boats return from their two-hour voyage.
Diane Crockett of Bradenton sat near the dock as she took in the lights.
“I can’t believe how much effort they put into it,” she said.