Lighted boat parade signals start of Christmas Downtown - Nov. 29

Lighted boat parade signals start of Christmas Downtown - Nov. 29

November 28th, 2013 by Karen Nazor Hill in Chattnow Outabout

Saturday's Lighted Boat Parade on the Tennessee River will end with a fireworks show that triggers the illumination of more than 130 downtown buildings, bridges and parks. Last year, the peaks of the Tennessee Aquarium, upper right, sported candy-cane stripes.

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

* What: 29th annual Lighted Boat Parade.

* When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29; fireworks at 8 p.m.

* Where: Coolidge Park, 150 River St.

* Admission: Free.

* Website: www.chattanoogapresents.com/lighted-boat-parade.

NEW THIS YEAR

Gifts That Give Hope provides an opportunity for people to give back to their community while at the same time honoring their loved ones. Instead of buying traditional holiday gifts, shoppers honor their friends and family by donating to local nonprofits and supporting those who are not on anyone's list. For each donation made, donors will receive a card describing their donations.

The family celebration, set for 5-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, in Walker Pavilion at Coolidge Park, will include food from Virginia's Gourmet by Design, photos taken with Santa, Mrs. Claus reading Christmas stories and children's crafts by Macaroni Kids. Admission is free.

The event is being held in honor of Porter Yarbrough, who worked for Prison Prevention Ministries and did mission work in South America.

Holiday music, carolers, a live Nativity scene and lighted boats parading up and down the Tennessee River will make it official Friday, Nov. 29 - it's Christmas in Chattanooga.

For many area residents and visitors, the Lighted Boat Parade and festivities at Coolidge Park signal the start of the holiday season. For many, attending is a family tradition.

Luke Morin, who lives on the North Shore, celebrates by hosting a Christmas party for family and friends.

"It's a great event for me and my friends, since I live on the North Shore overlooking the river," Morin says. "We get a front-row seat to the Christmas boat parade and the fireworks afterward."

For this 29th edition, about 40 boats, lighted and decorated for the season, will circle on the river between the Walnut Street and Olgiati bridges, says Carla Pritchard, president of Chattanooga Presents, organizer of the event. During the parade, there will be live holiday entertainment on the stage at Coolidge Park, as well as food and drink concessions and a live Nativity scene.

At the completion of the boat parade, a fireworks finale will trigger the illumination of more than 130 downtown buildings, bridges and parks, all of which will stay lit during the winter season.

"The boat parade itself has been a tradition in the local boating community for over 30 years," Pritchard says. "During its history, it has been paired with bonfires, craft shows, a fireball-throwing Santa and song-and-dance productions. However, for the past couple of years, the focus has just been back on the lighted boats themselves, capped off by a winter fireworks show that officially signals the holiday lighting of the downtown businesses, parks and bridges."

This year, the event will be paired with Gifts That Give Hope, an alternative gift fair for 10 local nonprofits in Walker Pavilion at Coolidge Park.

"We're advertising Coolidge Park as the primary site for this year's activities, where, in addition to Gifts That Give Hope, people can visit with Santa, hear holiday carols, see the live Nativity scene from Soddy-Daisy First Baptist and get food and drink from outdoor vendors," Pritchard says.

The boats and fireworks can be seen from the Walnut Street Bridge as well as from the south shore of the river, she says.

"This is a night that many people look forward to and make plans around - including locals and visitors. Even businesses and attractions often host special parties with special viewing of the boats and fireworks in mind," Pritchard says.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396.