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Boat parade draws happy holiday crowd

BRADENTON BEACH – Locals and tourists flooded Bridge Street to watch the 3rd Annual Bradenton Beach Holiday Boat Parade on Saturday, Dec. 4.

Boat owners were invited to show their holiday spirit by decorating their vessels in a festive parade along the Intracoastal Waterway. In addition to being a lot of fun, cash prizes were up for grabs for their efforts.

Boat parade draws happy holiday crowd
Frosty leads the way. – Jason Schaffer | Sun

The best viewing point for the parade was Bradenton Beach Pier which was packed with spectators on the north and south sides. The Anna Maria Oyster Bar had beverages available, and music from The Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar could be heard in the distance.

“This is amazing that you guys have something like this. My husband and I had no idea how this would work. When we heard boat parade, we thought they would be coming down the road pulled by trailers,” laughed Janelle Cox, of Bristol, Virginia.

The evening was more than just the boat parade. There was live music at the bars, Santa was hanging with the Anna Maria Island Privateers by the town Christmas tree in the post office parking lot and shops stayed open late to keep the festivities going late into the evening.

Boat parade draws happy holiday crowd
A busy night on Bridge Street. – Jason Schaffer | Sun

If you didn’t make it to the parade, don’t worry; there’s plenty of time to enjoy Bridge Street, which currently features the most Christmas lights ever placed on any single street in the history of Anna Maria Island. The 40-foot tree (also a record for the Island) and all the lights will remain lit through the end of the month, and many shops are staying open late for holiday shopping.

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