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Enjoying Fort Lauderdale’s annual Winterfest Boat Parade

Ever dreamt of visiting the “Venice of America”? Then consider visiting Fort Lauderdale, which has striking resemblance with the popular Italian city of Venice because of its vast and thriving waterways network. These include the New River, the Intracoastal Waterway and a large number of canals. Fort Lauderdale, which is situated north of Miami, continues to be a popular destination for tourists from worldwide and film producers because of its scenic locations.

Fort Lauderdale with its vast network of waterways is also a premier destination for water sports and boating enthusiasts. One such boating related event taking place in the city is the popular Winterfest Boat Parade held in the month of December every year. The boat parade is being organized in the city since it first started in the year 1970. This annual tradition is continuing ever since and became one of the leading events in Florida.

The event remains dear to the hearts of many native Floridians, for whom it is popularly known as the “Fort Lauderdale Christmas Boat Parade”. This year the Winterfest Boat Parade will be held on Saturday, December 13, 2014. The event has gained immense popularity over the years and is being currently adjudged among the top 10 parades being held in the world today among 50,000 parades.

Brief Overview of the parade
The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino has been sponsoring the boat parade in recent years. More than 100 boats of varied types and sizes take part in the parade. Some of these boats are up to 20 feet long, while others are huge megayachts. All these boats are brilliantly decorated and illuminated.  The parade starts at 6.30 pm after all the boats taking part in the event have arrived and gathered along the New River, situated in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The boat parade then begins in a slow procession down the waterway.

The boat parade route covers a total of 12 miles starting off from downtown Fort Lauderdale on the New River, slowly making its way to the Intracoastal Waterway, and then moving onwards to north along the ICW past Bahia Mar and finally concluding in Pompano Beach.

It’s quite thrilling to see some of these brightly lit vessels having musical bands as well. In one such parade held in the recent past celebrity singer Barbra Streisand staged live musical performance on a yacht.

In the past years, renowned movie and sports celebrities had been part of the boat parades in the role of the Grand Marshal. Prominent movie star George Hamilton, who shot to limelight because of his role in the famous Fort Lauderdale classic movie “Where The Boys Are”, was made the Grand Marshall of the parade. The event was then known as the Ft. Lauderdale Christmas Boat Parade. NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal had also been the Grand Marshall of one such boat parade. Celebrities such as Alonzo Mourning, Kim Karsahian and Jim Belushi have also been prominently featured in other parades.

Best way to see boat parade
Let’s get an insight into some of the best ways to see and enjoy the Winterfest Boat Parade. Here are some choices before you to have a thrilling experience at the parade. Try to seek a ride somehow on one of the boats taking part in the parade. This is one of the options that will help you enjoy the exciting parade. If you aren’t able to do this, then consider another option. Why not find a friend taking part in the parade? He will be the best person to offer a ride on the parade boat and provide an enjoyable experience in the process. Forget all this. If these aren’t possible, then seriously consider paying a fee and take part in the boat parade yourself. This is absolutely a good idea for all those passionate about boating and other water related activities.

Plenty of spots are available for you all along the waterway and the river to watch the fabulous parade. Make haste on December 13, and try to reach there early. This is the best way to place oneself into a vantage position. Remember that the parade will be attracting thousands of spectators. The spots will be quite crowded. If you reach early then you won’t have to compete for seats.

Watching the parade even becomes more enjoyable with several waterfront bars and restaurants offering great seating arrangements along the parade route. Making reservations at these places in advance always pays. The Winterfest Boat Parade is surely the best event in Fort Lauderdale that you would love attending year after year.

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