Sail­ing into the SEA­SON

MYS­TIC EVENT BRINGS NAU­TI­CAL FLA­VOR TO THE HOL­I­DAYS

The Day - Sound & Country - - River Revelers - By KA­T­RINA T. GATH­ERS Day StaffWriter

HHere comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus… river? The hol­i­day tune typ­i­cally ends with “lane” but for the or­ga­niz­ers of the Tree Lighting and Lighted Hol­i­day Boat Pa­rade, the change makes sense. For the last five years, the last Satur­day in Novem­ber has been the day that spec­ta­tors as­sem­ble along the Mys­tic River to watch a tree lighting and boat pa­rade that kicks off the hol­i­day sea­son.

Hosted by the Greater Mys­tic Cham­ber of Com­merce, the day fea- tures a visit by the bearded old man to Mys­tic Sea­port be­fore he heads to Mys­tic River Park, where he lis­tens to chil­dren’s hol­i­day wish lists. A tree lighting cer­e­mony be­gins at 6 p.m., and about a half hour later, the first ves­sels be­gin mak­ing their way down the river to­ward the park.

Tri­ci­aWalsh, the man­ager of mem­ber­ship and op­er­a­tions, be­gan work­ing with the cham­ber ear­lier this year, but had pre­vi­ously at­tended the event as a spec­ta­tor.

“I just used to come down and see it and I thought it was gor­geous,” she says. “But there is a lot of be­hind-thescenes work that you don’t re­al­ize, like work­ing with the towns of Ston­ing­ton and Gro­ton to get per­mits. It’s neat to be a part of it.”

In re­cent years, more than 20 boats have par­tic­i­pated in the hol­i­day pa­rade, which re­quires own­ers to tap into their cre­ativ­ity. Spec­ta­tors typ­i­cally start gath­er­ing around noon, when boaters are putting the fi­nal touches on their ves­sels, says Tri­cia Cun­ning­ham, cham­ber pres­i­dent.

“Last year we had snow geese. One boat had fish jump­ing out of the wa­ter,” says Cun­ning­ham. “It’s not just red and green lights. Many peo­ple have themes, like Christ­mas in Par­adise, a boat that fea­tured palm trees.

“Peo­ple def­i­nitely go all out (to) be creative. We don’t set any lim­its, ex­cept that we don’t want too many San­tas,” says the cham­ber pres­i­dent. “We don’t want to con­fuse the lit­tle ones.”

Twenty-eight boats made the trip down Mys­tic River last year, and Cun­ning­ham hopes for more of the same this Novem­ber. Typ­i­cally, more power boats than sail­boats take part in the fes­tiv­i­ties, but Cun­ning­ham is hop­ing to in­crease num­bers for the lat­ter group.

There is no fee to watch the show or en­ter a ves­sel in the pa­rade, how­ever, spec­ta­tors and par­tic­i­pants are asked to con­trib­ute a new, un­wrapped toy. The gifts are do­nated to the Paw­catuck Neigh­bor­hood Cen­ter.

There is no boat too big or too small for the pa­rade, which leaves Mys­tic Sea­port and goes down river be­fore end­ing at the train bridge. The pro­ces­sion then makes a loop and heads back to the Sea­port.

“The largest boat was when we had the Valiant and the small­est was a lit­tle row boat, right down to a lit­tle dinghy, that has par­tic­i­pated,” says Cun­ning­ham. The best dec­o­rated ves­sel re­ceives the dis­tinc­tion of “Miss Mys­tic,” a prize that comes with the ti­tle and flag to hang from the boat.

The other cat­e­gories are: Most Charis­matic Crew; Most In­no­va­tive Ves­sel; and Best Dressed Ves­sel.

Pa­rade par­tic­i­pants are asked to sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion, which in­cludes the name, size and type of ves­sel, along with the boat’s theme, if any.

“There is no limit to the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants, but we are grow­ing ev­ery year, so this helps us have a good idea,” of the fi­nal tally, says Cun­ning­ham.

The cham­ber is ac­cept­ing applications up to a week be­fore the event.

THE PAR­TIC­I­PAT­ING BOATS FORM A VIVID DIS­PLAY BOTH ON AND OFF THE WA­TER. PHOTO JEFF EVANS / THE DAY.

SIM­PLE WHITE LIGHTS DRESS UP THIS BEAU­TI­FUL BOAT. JEFF EVANS / THE DAY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.