On Dec. 11, the annual Holiday Boat Parade at Jiggs Landing Preserve flashed a trail down the Braden River to Linger Lodge and back.
Denise Kleiner, the general manager of the boat tours at the Bradenton preserve, said the 23 entries were the most ever in the event, which was celebrating its 10th year.
Kleiner said when the event began through the Old Braden River Historical Society, which she founded, it was small and involved a few residents gathering together more informally.
This year’s event began at Jiggs Landing Outpost where a crowd cheered on boats that featured a host of holiday lights, with themes ranging from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to Santa Claus’ sleigh.
After a ride around Evers Reservoir, the parade entries disappeared into the mangroves, heading toward Linger Lodge. There, many of the boaters gathered together for dinner.
Kleiner said despite its growing size, the parade still served as an extremely local event capable of bringing the community together.
There are no fees or registration requirements for the event.
“Just be there and have fun,” she said.
She noted that the concessions at Jiggs Landing and Linger Lodge try to help each other out with business when possible.
“In terms of lighting and music, every boat was a little different,” said Lakewood Ranch’s Robert Dewey, who came to watch the event.