55th Annual League City Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake presented by the City of Kemah
For the last 55 years the official beginning of the holiday season for the Bay Area has been the annual Christmas Boat Lane Parade on Clear Lake. This year the parade sets sail at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10 from South Shore Harbour Marina in League City and the Nassau Bay Lagoon.
This parade was started by five gentlemen who decided to decorate their boats and parade around Clear Lake. It was cold, foggy and rainy as they pulled out of the marina to begin, and they had a hard time seeing in front of them. The people at Jimmie Walker’s Restaurant (now Landry’s), had heard about the parade, so they kept looking for the boats through the fogged up windows. Finally they appeared. Five decorated boats bravely paraded in the wind and rain down the channel and when the captains saw the people in Jimmie Walker’s loving it, Capt. Jack Campbell announced that this is our inaugural Christmas boat parade — and it’s been a tradition ever since.
The parade has grown tremendously, attracting thousands of people to witness the brilliant display of boat lights that can be seen by viewers on land, and by the hundreds of boats anchored throughout the lake. The restaurants along the shores and at the Kemah Boardwalk do a booming business while homeowners and apartment dwellers on the lake plan annual parties.
Some of the boaters have participated for over 25 years and their decorations become more creative and elaborate each year. Plans begin well in advance and are kept secret right up to parade night. Floating entries of all sizes include rowboats, sailboats and power boats. The boats have music, passengers in costume and all types of moving parts.
Outstanding past entries include an airplane with a turning propeller, a hot air balloon, a brigade of toy soldiers, a moving train, a space shuttle “blasting” through the channel, a 40 foot tall Christmas tree with lights synchronized to Christmas music and a 42 foot flying dove with wings that moved up and down.
Following the tragedy of 9/11, a boater built the New York skyline out of lights with a fireman on one of the World Trade Center buildings. It was touching and heart wrenching to say the least. Just imagine 100 boats with thousands of lights reflecting off the water, the boat crews wishing onlookers a joyful holiday; it’s an unforgettable experience that captures the true meaning of the Christmas spirit.
The Texas Navy’s Sam Houston Squadron out of Lakewood Yacht Club with honorary Parade Marshall Admiral R.B. “Bob” Taylor and 2017 Parade Marshall Kemah’s very own Miss Texas USA Nancy Gonzalez will lead the parade and reach the Kemah Boardwalk around 7 p.m. The boaters will follow past the spectators at the South Shore Harbour Marina, the Nassau Bay Lagoon and down the channel to Seabrook and the Kemah Boardwalk.
Visitors are encouraged to spend the weekend in our sponsoring city’s hotels League City, Kemah and Nassau Bay. Go to www.visitbayareahouston.com for information.
The following morning local businesses sponsor individual prizes at the Awards Brunch inside South Shore Harbour Resort. The grand finale of the morning is the presentation of the Mayor’s awards and the top five trophies presented in honor of the parade’s founders.
The Clear Lake Area Chamber parade committee produces the event every year. For information and entry forms go to www.clearlakearea.com or call 281-488-7676.