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Lighted Boat Parade a Gig Harbor tradition for more than 50 years

The annual Gig Harbor Lighted Boat Parade will feature more than 1,000 linear feet of lighted boats in this year’s parade.
The annual Gig Harbor Lighted Boat Parade will feature more than 1,000 linear feet of lighted boats in this year’s parade. Staff file

The Lighted Boat Parade has been a holiday fixture for more than 50 years in Gig Harbor.

“It’s been around forever,” said event chair Mark Tronca.

Commodore Bobbie Higgins agrees: “It’s been a Gig Harbor Yacht Club tradition for awhile.”

The event, which is sponsored by the Gig Harbor Yacht Club, already has 26 boats signed up to participate in the parade, ranging in size from canoes and kayaks to boats more than 60 feet long.

There will be more than 1,000 linear feet of lighted boats in this year’s parade.

“That’s quite a parade,” he said. “You’ll see lots of different things. Everybody kind of puts their creativity together.”

The parade will be lead by the Gig Harbor Police Department’s patrol boat, which will also control the speed of the parade. The boats will form a line as they glide from their starting point at Arabella’s dock and continue around the harbor, counterclockwise for two laps.

“You’ll see lots of different things,” Tronca said of the decorations on the various boats.

The best locations to view the parade are at the public dock in Skansie Brothers Park, the Maritime Pier and at the public boat launch, according to Tronca.

He also advises the use of floatation devices on children standing near the water’s edge on the docks in the dark.

With the unpredictable winter weather in mind, Tronca and Higgins keep safety as their top priority for the parade.

“Rain won’t stop us, but heavy wind could put a damper on the whole thing,” Tronca said. “It’s really gonna depend on the wind.”

Heavy winds can make it unsafe to move the larger boats without causing damage. The safety of the parade will be decided the day of the event, and until the decision is made, the show will go on.

“This is a way for the boating community to give back to the local community and bring a bit of Christmas cheer,” he said of the parade, in which his boat, “Life’s Good,” will be featured.

Higgins, who plans to participate in the parade by riding along on a friend’s boat, agrees that it is a way for the club to contribute to the city’s holiday events.

“It’s just a fabulous, fabulous festive time to get in the holiday spirit,” she said.

Registration remains open for the parade until Friday (Dec. 11), and participation does not require membership to the Gig Harbor Yacht Club.

Anyone interested can email ghyclightedparade@gmail.com with their name, boat name and boat length.

The Lighted Boat Parade will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 12) in Gig Harbor.

Andrea Haffly: 253-358-4155, @gateway_andrea

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