Apollo Beach prepares for lighted boat parade
APOLLO BEACH - For more than 20 years, the canals of Apollo Beach have been illuminated by a festive stream of holiday-themed watercrafts during one winter evening. This year will be no different. The annual Apollo Beach Christmas Lighted Boat Parade will take place Dec. 18. "People have been calling me and asking about it since way back in July," said Joanne Gadek, executive director of the Apollo Beach Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the event along with the Tampa Sailing Squadron."If we didn't have it, it'd be a sad state of affairs for a lot of people, because they really get into it," she said. Gadek expects 25 to 30 boats to be in this year's parade, which is free and open to the public as well as to any boaters interested in participating. The latter are required to attend a 9 a.m. captain's meeting at the Tampa Bay Sailing Squadron, 1250 Apollo Beach Blvd., to receive their assigned number. The parade is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the south channel of Apollo Beach - on the outer tip of the Andalucia coastal community - and proceed through some of the area's major canals, which flow along streets including Flamingo Drive, Symphony Isles Beach and Lake Sunrise Boulevard. At the end of the evening, awards will be handed out for the most innovative decorations. The best sailboats and powerboats will receive trophies in their respective categories. The event also will feature a chili cook-off. Though the event is centered on Apollo Beach, Gadek said the parade's appeal extends well beyond that community. "Every year we have a bunch of people who come up from Sun City Center and all over just to watch," Gadek said. "It's just a great way for everyone to celebrate the holidays outside." For information, call (813) 645-1366.