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Let your light shine
Annual Parade of Lights ushers in the holidays for Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier twinkles during the annual Parade of Lights, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

Parade of Lights

What: 5th annual lighted boat parade hosted by the UYC Maritime Foundation

Where: Aqualand Marina, 6800 Lights Ferry Road, Flowery Branch

When: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 4

How much: $25

More info: 770-967-2814


Pontoons, cruisers, houseboats and sailboats decorated with twinkling lights and festive embellishments, many that are over the top, is the way the UYC Maritime Foundation has welcomed the Christmas season for the past five years.

"This is just a wonderful way for the community to get together, some of these boats are 100 feet long and 20 feet wide," said Pam Eastman, chairwoman for the land-based portion of the Lake Lanier event. "This year we are calling it the ‘Bling Team;' we'll have a voltage award, the Griswold award for the boats that really go overboard. Last year Alan Shedd did Gabriel's Angel that took six months and went to the top of his mast on his sailboat. The parade itself is just beautiful."

The annual Parade of Lights is ready to set sail at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 at Aqualand Marina in Flowery Branch and registration for the event is open until parade day.

Awards will be handed out to the best decorated boats at 9 p.m.

The funds raised will facilitate special programs that the UYC Maritime Foundation offers, such as aid for students with special needs and scholarships for college students, among others.

The event this year will include "A Taste of the Lake" and holiday activities for all ages. Restaurants participating are Napoli's, Crossroads, Miss Shuckums and Toasted & Tapped, among others.

Phil Niekro and Bruce Erion are set to be the masters of ceremonies.

Nearly 70 boats are expected this year and registration includes participation in the parade, "A Taste of the Lake" ticket, T-shirt and Lake Lanier Chart Book.

"Lake Lanier is home to two of the largest inland marinas (Aqualand and Holiday marinas) and every marina is participating; it's all about bringing the community together," Eastman said.

Locals can check out the boat parade for free from Old Federal Park off Old Federal Road and at Van Pugh off Gaines Ferry.

At 6 p.m. the festivities will begin at Aqualand with Santa Claus, food, music, marshmallow roast along with cars and boats on display.

"A Taste of the Lake" will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. with area restaurants offering samples of their cuisine. Everyone is invited to attend the "Taste," even if they do not participate in the boat parade. Admission to "A Taste of the Lake" party is $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Children 10 and under are free.

"This year is my first year being the chair and we really wanted to kick it up a notch," Eastman said.