Local boat owners go all out to enter Winterfest Boat Parade

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - It is officially Winterfest week in South Florida, and local participants in next weekend’s Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade are getting ready by dressing up their vessels in their holiday best.

Every year, decked-out boats and yachts go on a 12-mile route starting in downtown Fort Lauderdale and making its way east on the New River and north on the Intracoastal Waterway to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach.

This theme for Saturday’s event is “Lights … Camera … Action: Movies on Parade,” so spectators can expect to see a lot of creative designs this year, maybe Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch.

Attendees will definitely see WSVN, which is a proud sponsor of the event. Last year, 7News anchors Belkys Nerey and Craig Stevens smiled and waved to revelers from the station’s festive boat.

South Florida natives are joining in on the fun this year, seeing if their boat can keep up with the spirit.

“I’ve watched the boat parade every single year my entire life, which is 33 years, here in Fort Lauderdale,” said Josh Kerrigan, “and we were watching the parade last year from our dock and said, ‘You know what? This year we need to put the boat in it.'”

Kerrigan and his friends are bringing in their 72-footer, Mustang Sally, into the parade.

“We’re real excited. We got all these lights on,” said Ryan Swart, who is helping decorate the boat. “Our theme this year is Rudolph, so we’re trying to make it so you can see it from space and land an airplane on this thing.”

Their Rudolph stands 11 feet high, so maybe not space. Kerrigan and his friends said they’re excited just to be a part of the magic.

But don’t be mistaken. It took a lot of hard work to get Rudolph and the gang on board.

“I mean, this took about a month so far already, about a dozen trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s,” said Joseph Menniti. “We sold them out of the lights each time for the ones we wanted, so we had to go to multiple Home Depots and Lowe’s each week.”

The parade will be led by former Poison frontman Bret Michaels, who will serve as the grand marshal.

So, whether you’re in the parade or watching it, get ready to rock the boat.

“We’re going to have a great crew operating on board, wishing everyone a merry Christmas as we go on by,” said Kerrigan.

The parade takes place Saturday, Dec. 14, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

People can still enter boats in the parade, and there are still tickets available for the Grandstand Viewing Area. For more information, click here.

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