Boat Parade Returns To Royal Palm Beach Saturday, Dec. 12

The annual Christmas light boat parade in Royal Palm Beach, started more than a decade ago by a few residents, is set to return on Saturday, Dec. 12. The parade will start at Todd A. Robiner Park in La Mancha at 6:30 p.m. and end at Lakeside Challenger Park near the Royal Inn at the southern end of Royal Palm Beach Blvd.

Royal Palm Beach resident David McCallum, who started the parade 14 years ago with a few of his neighbors, said the parade will muster at Todd A. Robiner Park at about 6:30 p.m.

“It started out with just me, and the next year it was like three boats, and it just kept on growing,” McCallum said. “I never know how many boats there will be until they show up.”

He started organizing the parade on Facebook three years ago, and before that he would print up flyers to announce the parade and knock on doors of people who had boats in their backyard.

“I did a Facebook page, and that really helped out a lot,” he said. “We went from five to 10 boats to about 20 boats last year.”

Parade participation is limited to residents of Royal Palm Beach.

“I asked the village if they would allow people from outside the village to come just for the boat show, but they wouldn’t let it happen,” McCallum said. “You can’t go into the Royal Palm Beach waterways unless you’re a resident.”

 He said participants usually use generators or power inverters to run their displays.

“I used to use a generator, and then when the LED lights came out, that saved the day,” he said. “Now, I just use a power inverter.”

He said boats start showing up at the park at about 5:30 p.m.

“At 6:30 p.m., we hit the water,” McCallum said. “I’m usually the one who leads the parade. We used to have a guy who has a Santa Claus who followed at the end, but he moved, so I don’t know who’s going to be at the end of the parade this year.”

The parade heads west on the canal past Earthday Park and H.L. Johnson Elementary School, under the Royal Palm Beach Blvd. bridge, then south down the M-1 Canal under the Okeechobee Blvd. bridge and the Sparrow Drive bridge to Lakeside Challenger Park, arriving at approximately 7:30 p.m.

“Most of the time, we do a lap around the fountain that’s in that lake, and then we’ll nose up onto the beach where the restaurant is at the Royal Inn,” McCallum said. “We’ll hang out there for about half an hour as we go around and look at everybody’s boats, because when you’re in the parade, you can’t really look at everybody’s boats and see the lights.”

For more information, search for “Royal Palm Beach Christmas Boat Parade” on Facebook or call McCallum at (561) 601-7194.