The Naples Boat Parade is a Christmas tradition that dates back 72 years.
"When the island formed, people would get in their dinghies and look at all of the lights (on houses)," John Schuman, parade chairman, told the Grunion last year. "So it was organized into a parade. The community just really enjoys it. There's something about the boats and lights at Christmas time. You don't have to be a child to enjoy it."
This year, the parade will get started as the sun begins to set. Streets on the islands will begin to close surrounding intersections at 5 p.m. Parking beforehand — or taking an Uber or Lyft — is recommended.
Naples Plaza also will close at Loreta Walk, Cordova Walk, Syracuse Walk, Savona Walk, Angelo Walk and The Toledo. Other closures include Marine Stadium at the Paoli Way entrance, The Colonnade at The Toledo and Appian Way at The Toledo.
Streets will reopen sometime after the parade ends.
Large boats will begin to assemble at 6 p.m. along Lido Lane and off the sea wall in front of Naples Plaza. Smaller boats will assemble around 6:30 p.m. in Marine Stadium.
All vessels are judged on theme, lights, music, costumes, originality and best overall. Small boat judges will be along Rivo Alto Canal, but large boats are judged before the event, so participants are encouraged to show up early.
Additionally, any boats and kayaks on the water during the parade must be a part of the event to ensure that all parties stay safe.
"The U.S. Coast Guard in conjunction with local law enforcement are requiring all kayakers must actually be wearing their life jacket at all times while participating in the parade," The NIA said on the website.
Last year's grand prize winner in the small boat contest was Alan Singer of the Cerritos Bahia Yacht Club, located in Long Beach. The set up featured live jazz music, white Christmas trees, festive lighting — and appeared to be pulled by a reindeer.
In the large boat contest, Paul Javier and his boat "Hilaria," was awarded the grand prize for his festive and bright presentation, featuring Santa and reindeer statues, bright candy canes and a glowing angel at the helm.
Parking is available at the Alamitos Bay Marina and Mothers Beach. Beach parking also will be available at Bay Shore Avenue and Ocean Boulevard, but be mindful of the meters.
Naples Elementary School (5537 E. The Toledo) will have limited parking spots available for $20 per vehicle.
Restrooms are available at Mothers Beach and at Bay Shore Avenue and Second Street. Portable toilets will be at The Colonnade, Naples Elementary School and the parking lot off Appian Way, near Long Beach Yacht Club.
Additionally, spectators can bring chairs and coolers with food and refreshments, but alcohol cannot be consumed. Long Beach Police are expected to be patrolling the event.
Finally, the best place to view the parade is along Naples Canal, organizers said.
"The best place to see the Parade is along the Naples Canals and outer walks," the website said. "Other good places are along Bay Shore Drive North of Second Street or the beach along Bay Shore Drive south of Second Street, or on East Bayshore Walk on the Belmont Peninsula."
Carolers will be making rounds during the event and nearby restaurants will be open for guests to grab a bite to eat or coffee and hot chocolate.
The 72nd Naples Island Holiday Boat Parade is happening at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. The event will be streamed live from PADNET T.V. at padnet.tv.
For more information, go to naplesca.com.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.