By Martie Thompson
Mandarin and NW St. Johns County residents will once again be able to enjoy the annual Julington Creek Boat Parade of Lights (formerly Christmas on the Creek) to begin the holiday season’s annual festivities. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3 beginning at 7 p.m.
“The community is invited to come out and enjoy the display,” said Commodore Bill Flynn of the Julington Creek Prop Club, which is the sponsor of the boat parade.
Established in 1988, this annual boat parade will feature an estimated 40 boats of all shapes, sizes, and themes. Boats decked out in all their holiday finery navigate the parade route, which begins at the Julington Creek Marina, goes underneath the Julington Creek Bridge, motors around Bulls Bay, then returns under the bridge and continues down Durbin Creek. Spectators can view the festivities from the Julington Creek Bridge walkways.
Houses and docks along the creek are eligible for prizes for the best decorations and cash prizes are given to the top three decorated boats as determined by the judge boat. The judge boat posts itself almost out in the St. Johns River to view the parade of boats as they go by, and then falls in line behind the final boat to view the houses and docks along the way into Durbin Creek. Homeowners with docks located on the parade route also join in the fun. Decorated docks can vie for a variety of prizes.
According to Flynn, there is a great deal of planning and organizational prep work done before the boat parade. In October each year, the Prop Club starts contacting boaters, area merchants and residents gathering donations for the event. Some of the boats participating in the parade are Prop Club members and others come from all over the area. Boats range in size from 17 to 40 feet in length.
The Julington Creek Prop Club is a social organization of boaters that meets on the second Saturday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the Julington Creek Marina dock. All interested boaters are invited to join for boating information and fun at the creek. Annual dues provide some of the funds for the Julington Creek Boat Parade of Lights, but Flynn said the Prop Club depends on and appreciates many local business’ and waterfront owners’ contributions as well.
Photo courtesy Julington Creek Prop Club