By Martie Thompson

Despite “growing up” on a 15 ft. ski boat through his late teens, Tom Clay said it was many years before he had his own boat. His career as head of engineering with Wilmington, Del., based chemical company Solenis kept him busy and ultimately afforded him the opportunity to move to Florida in 1999. His three young daughters were active with sporting activities which had the family hold off on getting a boat until 2015, when they bought a 21 ft. Chaparral bow rider with an inboard/outboard motor. He joined the Julington Creek Prop Club and today serves as the commodore of the club.

The Julington Creek Prop Club is a social club best known for its presentation of Christmas on the Creek each year on the first Saturday of December. 

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Q: What are some of the activities of the Julington Creek Prop Club?
A: The Prop Club is a boating social club. We meet at the Julington Creek Marina on the second Saturday of each month except for December. Happy Hour starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by the meeting at 6 p.m. We also have an annual fish fry and a members-only Commodore’s Steak Dinner at our February meeting. We encourage guests to come to our other events, which include things like a boating rendezvous on a local sandbar, viewing the Air Show from the river and a cruise to St. Augustine to go to dinner together. Unfortunately, COVID protocols have cancelled many of our events this past year, but we are looking forward to starting things back up.

Q: What is the club’s biggest event?
A: Our biggest and best known event is the Christmas on the Creek light parade. This holiday event was started by the Prop Club approximately 30 years ago and continues to this day. It’s not only a boat parade, but we also encourage people with docks along Julington Creek to decorate and participate. Prop Club members solicit local businesses for donations of prizes, which we award to the top three boats and the top three docks. 

Q: Is it necessary to have a boat to join the Prop Club?
A: No. Many members are boatless. In fact, so many members do not have boats that we sometimes call it the “Prop-less” Club. I actually sold my boat back in 2018. Members with boats host other members and guests for the boating events and of course, our monthly meetings and happy hours are held dock-side.

Q: What do you like best about boating?

A: I always enjoy getting out on the water and especially cruising different areas of the St. Johns River, like Black Creek. I love to go through downtown Jacksonville on the river, especially at night, and see the lights from all the buildings. The Intracoastal Waterway is also fun and we like to go to local waterfront restaurants via boat. 

Q: If people are interested in learning more about the Julington Creek Prop Club, what should they do?
A: They can contact any of the officers (Vice Commodore Todd Marshall, Treasurer Susan Kirkpatrick or Secretary Sally Flynn) or they can email me at They can visit our Facebook page, Julington Creek Prop Club. We welcome new members.

Photo courtesy Tom Clay
Tom Clay

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