Super Bowls of Boats
AquaPalooza Bills itself as the world’s “biggest” boating event, but you might get arguments from those who attend the following mega raft-ups.
Since 1920, the Seattle Yacht Club has marked the “opening day” of the boating season with a boat parade through Montlake Cut. More than 300 lavishly decorated boats register each year, all in keeping with the parade’s ever changing, much anticipated theme.
Coast Guard Festival
Grand Haven, Michigan
What began as a picnic for Coast Guard personnel in 1924 has grown into a weeklong celebration honoring the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard that draws 350,000 people. A battle of the bands kicks things off and is followed by parades, ski shows, car shows, fireworks and the opportunity to tour Coast Guard vessels.
WinterFest Boat Parade
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Dubbed “the greatest show on H2O,” Fort Lauderdale’s WinterFest Boat Parade has been a holiday tradition since 1971, featuring a charming line of lighted boats of all shapes and sizes. Coverage on national television is routine, and a long line of celebrity grand marshals ups the parade’s star quotient.
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
Every year, Tampa re-enacts the invasion of the city by mythical pirate Jose Gaspar, who sails into Hillsborough Bay aboard the world’s only fully rigged pirate ship. A fleet of pleasure boats initially seems intent on defending the city, before joining the buccaneers. Oh, whom are we kidding — it’s just one huge party, with more than 3,000 boats some years.
Lake Cumberland Raft-Up
Lake Cumberland, Kentucky
At press time, this bold newcomer promised to break the current Guinness World Record of 1,453 boats linked in a raft-up line at an event scheduled for August 2010. Did it make it? Check out lakecumberlandraftup.com for the results.