The Lights on the Lake boat parade is back for a 26th year and will include the new Christmas by the Lake.
“We wanted to make it more family and kid friendly,” said organizer Doug McSpadden. “This is such a great feature of the Lake Wylie community, and it was never as family friendly as it could be.”
The boat parade remains largely unchanged, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13. Starting at 4 p.m., the setup between T-Bones on the Lake and Buster Boyd Access Area will include a live nativity, a flat bed stage with musical acts, emergency response vehicles and a visit from Santa. Volunteers will man warming huts with fire pits, warm beverages and food.
Members from half dozen local churches will help with the hospitality stations.
“It was a great opportunity to combine different elements of our community,” McSpadden said.
Ben Rawls of The Journey at Lake Wylie said the boat parade can be one of many ways to meet the needs of the community.
“We try to do as much as we can to outreach to the community,” Rawls said.
Matt McGarity, pastor of Relevant Church, said churches partnering in the day of activities makes sense.
“We are excited to be a part of the annual boat parade because Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Jesus our savior,” he said. “And what better way to celebrate this extraordinary event than together, side-by-side with other local churches?”
The new festivities include nearly a dozen corporate sponsors. Organizers hope a larger event will appeal to more boaters, too.
“It’ll keep people more involved, for longer,” McSpadden said. “We hope that for the boat captains, it will mean their vessels are more appreciated.”
Boaters can also gather Dec. 12 at T-Bones for an informal showing, McSpadden said.
“We’re encouraging boat captains to make it a two-night event,” McSpadden said.
Susan Bromfield, president of the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce, said the additions are good for the chamber’s annual event.
“It complements the boat parade,” Bromfield said of the new activities.
The parade typically has about 20 boats, launching from T-Bones’ dock and traveling the main channel for about 30 minutes. Bromfield said a good weather forecast would mean more boat displays.
“The boaters, they watch the weather, too,” she said. “It’s still all about the weather.”
Awards will be given for first through third place, most creative and most festive. This year also brings a new category, the Charlie Brown Award.
“If somebody puts the effort into it and it doesn’t turn out so hot, they still might get an award,” Bromfield said.