The 34th annual Christmas Regatta went off without a hitch Saturday, as the weather cleared from earlier downpours and 20 boats sailed down the Intracoastal Waterway, lights twinkling, music blaring and shouts of Merry Christmas issuing from the boaters aboard.
“We appreciate everyone that paraded with us. Fortunately, the weather turned out fantastic. We couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Susie Watson, event organizer. “And we appreciate the committee – they have got to be recognized for all the hard work they do all year. We could not put this on without them.”
Due to earlier rains, 10 boaters decided to pull out because they could not get their vessels decorated in time, Watson said, adding “we’ll emphasize getting started decorating earlier next year.”
The event is put on for charity and people may continue to bring unwrapped toys to any of 70 locations in the city with red boxes in front of them. Toys can also be dropped off at Harbourgate Marina behind Filet’s (first left off of Little River Neck Road from Sea Mountain Highway). Toys will be collected up through Christmas; some later collections will be used for next year.
Parade observers noticed that there were no gaps in the boat parade and everyone had time to enjoy seeing each boat. “We really appreciate all of the boat owners staying in line and up close together,” Watson said. “Our captains did a fantastic job.”
The overall winner of the parade was Russell Hatt, a 48-foot Hattaras Sportfishing yacht, the first boat to launch, which was not only colorfully decorated but the family showed lots of spirit, Watson said. “Here’s 84-year-old Cindy Russell on the front of the boat screaming her heart out, Merry Christmas.”
Judging is a lot like the Oscars. Watson does not know who the judges are; they are outsourced and place themselves anonymously along the parade route. Scores are sent in and tallied by one committee member who is sworn to anonymity. “I know nothing about it,” Watson said, adding she prefers it that way.
Winners by boat size are as follows: 29 feet and under: 1st place, Miss Sketter Lee; 2nd place: Sea Wrench; 3rd place: Panga. 30-39 feet: 1st place Pura Vida; 2nd place: Fresh Not Frozen. 40-59 feet: 1st place: Lone Ranger; 2nd place: Get A Way. There were no third places for the latter two categories.