2019 Winterfest Boat Parade charts festive route up Intracoastal

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The greatest show on H2O set sail from downtown Fort Lauderdale and brought holiday cheer to revelers up the Intracoastal Waterway with extravagant and festive designs.

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Winterfest Boat Parade, now in its 48th year, kicked off Saturday evening on the New River.

7News cameras captured dozens of yachts and boats of various sizes decked out and ready to rock with this year’s theme: “Lights … Camera … Action: Movies on Parade.”

“We love the fireworks,” said a woman.

Earlier on Saturday, crowds began to gather by the water as they got ready to take in the sights and sounds.

“This is my favorite event of the year,” said attendee Lanie Shapiro. “The decorations, and everybody is waving to each other, and everybody is partying on the boats, and its is so much fun.”

“The energy, the floats, just the whole camaraderie,” said attendee Jillian Hervish.

“The lights are incredible. I don’t even know how they generate that much electricity on these boats,” said a woman.

Even Santa Claus got into the fun.

“Happy Winterfest! Way to go,” he said before the start of the event.

This year’s grand marshal, Bret Michaels, rocked the night away.

Michaels kicked off the big event Friday night.

“I’m going to be partying the whole way and having such a great time,” he said. “It is amazing.”

The boats traveled 12 miles, heading east to the Intracoastal, then all the way north until they reached Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach.

Thousands sat back and enjoyed the nearly 100 vessels that were took part in this year’s festivities.

Among the familiar faces revelers spotted this year were 7News anchors Craig Stevens and Belkys Nerey, who smiled and waved to the crowds.

But the glitz and glam wasn’t just felt on the water. The holiday festivities were also felt on land, with food, animals and photo ops with jesters on stilts.

“I like how everybody has like the same energy,” said a woman, “like, they’re all happy to be here, they’re all just super happy to start off Christmas.”

“I like the people coming to commingle and stuff like that. This is amazing,” said another reveler.

Bridges along the route were temporarily shut down, starting at Las Olas Boulevard and ending at Commercial Boulevard, as well as Seventh to Third avenues.

But despite the traffic backups, onlookers said it didn’t matter, as long as they were able to enjoy the show.

“It was awesome. It was so much fun,” said a woman. “A community, everyone’s out here having a great time, and it’s just such a social event.”

By 10 p.m., participating boats were heading back to the start line in Fort Lauderdale.

WSVN will air the annual Winterfest Boat Parade Special next Saturday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m., as well as Christmas Day at 5 a.m. and noon.

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.