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By LESLIE STURMER
Special to the Citizen
This was the third year the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association hosted a Christmas boat parade held in conjunction with Community Night in the Park on December 17.
“Although the number of entries was the same as last year, the crowds more than doubled,” reported Rose Cantwell, who organized the event.
People were lined from 1st Street, along Dock Street, all the way to the City Park. The clear night and calm waters resulted in a spectrum of colors reflecting off the Gulf of Mexico.
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Officer Sherman James (our “clam cop”) led the parade of 10 boats, which ended with Santa Clam (convincingly played by Tom Liebert) and his elves (Alyssa Anderson and Skylar Wirth) on an airboat captained by Carl Robinson, of Robinson’s Seafood.
First place was awarded to Heath Davis and Freddie Klaus for their spectacular display of lights. Second place went to Wayne Watson for his “Bird of Peace,” a whimsical design with movable wings. In third place was Ray and Carla Ermel’s birddog boat with a theme of “Santa’s elves save Christmas,” as the Grinch was locked away in a cage. A large lighted Christmas tree graced Allison and Royce Nelson’s airboat and earned them fourth place. Heath’s boat was also awarded the “Children’s Prize” by Bill Pine’s young son Gavin.
Although not a prize winner, one must give credit to JD McCormick, who certainly entered the smallest boat—a kayak with a single strand of lights. As the night chill set in, Sue Colson’s chili and apple cider warmed over 100 people in the park. The festive evening ended with everyone singing Jingle Clams to the tune of Jingle Bells, “...Oh what fun it is to ride in a 90-horse Carolina skiff!”
This year’s successful parade has already started a discussion of how to make it an even bigger and brighter event for next year. If you have any ideas, please contact Rose Cantwell at (352) 543-6434.