The Palmetto Bay Holiday Boat Parade and canned food drive, a traditional event in the village, was repeated for the fifth year when decorated boats traversed village waterways to bring cheer to those watching along the shore while gathering donated canned foods to help those in need.
Sponsored by the Palmetto Bay Canal Boat Association, a local organization made up of Palmetto Bay and Pinecrest residents who use the local canal system, the boaters gathered at the pedestrian bridge in Coral Reef Park on Saturday, Dec. 20, at 4:30 p.m.
Boaters set out at 5:30 p.m. as darkness began to fall and worked their way through the canal system to reach Bill Sadowski Park, stopping at backyard docks along the way to collect non-perishable cans, boxes, and packages of food from anyone wishing to donate. The annual event is supported by members of the residential community as well as a local businesses.
Village Mayor Eugene Flinn participated in Santa attire and said he was pleased with the effort and grateful for the work of the organizers.
“Once again, an annual ‘thank you!’ to Rainer and Noel Schael, as well as all the members and participants of the Palmetto Bay Canal Association Holiday Boat Parade,” Mayor Flinn said. “This event grows each year, and the entire village enjoys it, both boating participants and shoreline festive partygoers.”
Mayor Flinn said that he started receiving inquiries as early as Halloween from people wanting to know the date of the event. Homeowners, who live on canal front properties, wanted to coordinate their holiday parties with the parade.
“This was another strong year for the holiday parties along the parade route,” Flinn said. “The observation along the available park banks was unusually strong this year and it may be time for Palmetto Bay to host a viewing party or other event of some sort at Coral Reef Park.
There were hundreds of people at Coral Reef Park this year to see these boats gather, and they provided a great sendoff.
“I want to also thank all those who donated canned food. Food was picked up along the parade route as well as those who dropped off at the Village Hall reception site.”
Parade organizer Rainer Schael and his wife, Noel, who is the dean of Middle School at Palmer Trinity, were pleased with how the event has grown.
“The Holiday Boat Parade started out five years ago with a bunch of friends that had met on the canal and formed the Palmetto Bay Canal Association,” Rainer Schael said. “That first year was five boats. We added the canned food drive two years ago and hope to add a toy drive as well next year. This year we had the entire council, minus Tim Schaffer, who was out of town.
“Noel and I feel that this ever-growing, family-friendly holiday event represents the warm and giving community that is Palmetto Bay,” he added.
The Palmetto Bay Canal Association is made up of pleasure boaters, fishermen, skiers, canoers and kayakers who not only enjoy using the local canal system, but consider themselves stewards of it. For information, contact Rainer Schael at email@example.com or call 305-799-8533.