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Holiday cheer poised to hit Lake Lanier in annual boat parade
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Decorated boats docked at Sunset Cove Marina during the 2017 holiday boat parade on Lake Lanier in Buford, on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017. The Times file photo
Lake Lanier Holiday Boat Parade

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 11

Where: Begins at  Port Royale Marina, ends at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

More info: lanierpartners.org

Lanier Partners of North Georgia is steering holiday cheer back to the waters of Lake Lanier.

For the seventh year in a row, boats of all sizes decked out in tinsel and lights will tread the waters for the Lake Lanier Holiday Boat Parade on Dec. 11.

Starting at 6:15 p.m. at Port Royale Marina, the vessels will point south to Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

According to Dale Ozaki, president of Lanier Partners of North Georgia, the tradition has become a way for local mariners to stay connected during the colder off-season months.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people that live on or near Lake Lanier to be able to use their boats and gather in the winter months,” he said.

This year, prizes will be awarded to boats sporting the best theme, best crew, most decorations and “most festive,” with a grand prize going to the best overall.

Captain Tom Stepnowski, owner of Lanier Boat Charter, took home the grand prize in 2020 and said he’s ready to return for his fourth consecutive parade. Decorated by Stewart Loggins, Stepnowski’s entry into this year’s contest boasts sparkling lights, snowflakes, candy canes and tinsel.

“We won last year so we have to try and outdo ourselves,” he said. “For boaters, it’s a great excuse to get out on the water with fellow boaters, the majority of which pack it up for the off-season and may not have connected since the end of summer.”

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The vessel of Tom Stepnowski, owner of Lanier Boat Charter, joins others decorated in a similar fashion for the seventh annual Lake Lanier Holiday Boat Parade on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Photo courtesy Tom Stepnowski

Profits from Lanier Partners events benefit charities and local nonprofits. For the fourth year in a row, the 2021 Lake Lanier Holiday Boat Parade’s earnings will support the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes. 

According to Lanier Partners’ board member and coordinator Richard Pickering, the organization aims to raise $10,000.

“The Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes provides for a safe and loving environment for children from the state of Georgia who have been abused, abandoned or neglected,” he said.

Lanier Partners is also hosting viewing parties for spectators to register and see the boats up close and personal. 

A land viewing party will be held at Pig Tales on Lake Lanier at $30 per adult and $10 per child aged 12 and younger. Admission is free for children aged two and younger. The ticket includes a dinner buffet, cash bar, holiday activities for children and visits with Santa. 

To bring guests even closer to the action, a three-hour houseboat cruise will cruise the water, departing from Harbor Landing At Lake Lanier in Buford. At $70 per adult and $30 per child, the ticket includes food, drinks and heated indoor seating. 

Ticket information and registration can be found at lanierpartners.org.

“This has been something that’s a part of Lake Lanier’s history — trying to celebrate the holiday season and provide for an opportunity for people to really enjoy the festivities and see the beautiful decorations on the boats,” Pickering said.

Registration for the parade is open until Thursday, Dec. 9. Prices range from $75-$230 per boat depending on the size. To register your boat and find more information about the parade, visit lanierpartners.org.
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