Sunday April 20th 2014

PARADE THE BOATS

By: Shannon Bryan

Boat Parade of Lights

4:30 pm (parade starts at 4:45 pm) Sat, Dec 15, $10

I respect people who trim their homes with Christmas spirit. I have an appreciation for the light-hanging, the faux snow, the massive wreaths hoisted over the garage with the help of a construction crane.

For some, there’s certainly a one-upper aspect to the endeavor (“Think your lights are so dang great, Bob? I’ll show you what a real man’s lights look like!”) Even still, they’re also an altruistic gesture – a gift to passersby. A decorated house is evidence of the inhabitant’s true yuletide devotion.

And hanging lights ain’t easy. My brother and I spent an entire day decking out the the front shrubs every year, crafting a lit pattern of bulbs that dazzled the senses. The design was so complex, so sublime, it was a distraction to passing motorists.

But we worked those lights until our fingers and faces were numb (only to have them abruptly go dark just two days after they were hung, no thanks to the little devil across the street with the bad attitude and a pair of wire cutters).

But we’re in Maine, folks. And with the water just over our shoulders it only makes sense that the holiday lights make their way to our floating fleet.

Saturday is the 12th Annual Portland Harbor Boat Parade of Lights, the magical night of the year when watercraft gather together, draped in their holiday finest. The parade of well-lit boats is visible from the shoreline, and Maine State Pier is a fine place to gather and gawk.

But you can also climb aboard a Casco Bay Lines ferry and watch it all from the water. (Tip: Smart folks board early to snap tables in the enclosed upper deck and uncork a few bottles of wine.)

The ferry departs at 4:30 pm Sat, Dec 15. Tickets are $10 (kids under 5 ride free) and proceeds benefit SailMaine. For more information about the boat parade (like maybe you have a boat and some lights and you want to get in on this), contact Chris at (207) 408-7525 or soulmatesv@gmail.com.

Tickets for the 4:30 pm ferry are on sale at the Casco Bay Lines ticket counter – and they often sell out. So don’t wait, or you’ll be left in the dark just like the shrubs of my Christmases past.