Boat parade to light up Middle River

Post-Thanksgiving tradition returns

November 25, 2011|By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun

Ray Beaty wove Christmas lights around the rails of his sailboat. An inflatable, motorcycle-riding Santa was strapped to the bow.

Beaty and his 9-year-old stepson, Tyler Hall, were at the Stansbury Yacht Basin marina on Friday afternoon to prepare his 1969 Tartan 27 for the Middle River Parade of Lighted Boats on Saturday — a tradition that is returning after a break last year.

For nearly a decade, watching Christmas-themed boats was a regular post-Thanksgiving event for Baltimore County's waterfront communities. But organizers canceled the event last year after few boaters signed up.

This year, Pat Williford, owner of the Stansbury Yacht Basin, and Jim High of the Baltimore Boating Center teamed up to bring it back.

"I didn't want it to be another year without a parade," Williford said.

It's the first time Beaty will take part.

"I'm very excited about it," he said. "I really like the idea of promoting boats because this is a water state."

High and Williford expect more than 30 boats this year, a bigger fleet than usual. People can watch from Wilson Point Park between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The boats also will travel past Carson's Creekside, Marli's and River Watch restaurants.

"The Saturday after Thanksgiving is notoriously a slow restaurant night," so organizers hope the parade will help boost business at the locally owned eateries, High said.

The parades are also traditional in Baltimore's Inner Harbor and in Annapolis.

"It's just one last time to get out on the water and have some fun with your family," High said.

At the marina Friday afternoon, Ray Book of Baltimore assembled wooden planks to make a 32-foot star for the side of his sailboat.

"I've got some angelic blow-up dolls that are going to fly around in the front of it with spotlights," Book said.

Purple lights — for the Ravens — and LED lighting are popular decorations this year, High said.

Beaty, who lives in Bel Air, has enjoyed powerboating all his life, but only recently tried sailing.

Last year, a friend who was a Baltimore City police officer died of cancer at age 47. It motivated the 40-year-old utility driller to do the things he always wanted to, including sailing. He got the boat three months ago.

"I kind of put together my little bucket list," he said. "I've always been obsessed with letting the wind take you somewhere. The sailboat always takes you back to shore."

alisonk@baltsun.com

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Lighted boat parade

The public can watch the Middle River Parade of Lighted Boats from Wilson Point Park between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday. The parade will also pass restaurants Carson's Creekside, Marli's and River Watch.

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