Beaufort boat parade shines light on joy of Lowcountry life

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Beaufort boat parade shines light on joy of Lowcountry life

By DAVID LAUDERDALE
dlauderdale@islandpacket.com
Published Friday, November 30, 2012   |  554 Words  |  

In Beaufort, Santa croons to Rudolph: "Won't you guide my kayak tonight?"

Children sing such favorite carols as "Grandma Got Run Over by a Shrimp Boat," "Away in a Whaler," "Joy to the Sandbar" and "Go Tell It on the Seawall."

Christmas in Beaufort officially starts next weekend, Dec. 7 to 9. The Parris Island Marine Corps Band and local choirs will celebrate the lighting of the city's new Christmas tree at 6 p.m. Friday during "A Night On The Town." And the traditional Christmas parade will strut through town at 3 p.m. Sunday.

But the season doesn't really begin until the "Light Up The Night" holiday boat parade drifts by the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park on Saturday night, a dazzling reminder of the special joy of a Lowcountry world.

Everybody is invited to decorate a boat and enter the parade. Those who register ahead will compete for prizes in six categories. Organizers expect 15 to 20 boats, but they want more.

The public is invited to watch from the park, sipping free hot chocolate provided by The Greenery.

The tradition started 10 years ago, although it was discontinued for a couple of years while the park was being renovated. Since it returned in 2007, the parade has been organized by the Beaufort Sail & Power Squadron for Main Street Beaufort, USA.

First, kayakers will do their thing, then sailboats and power boats are to come a-sailing down the Beaufort River from Buoy 244 in a somewhat organized line, somewhat on time, led by a Connecticut Yankee from Lady's Island.

"It's like herding cats," said Charlie Borrmann, who has been boating all his life. He bought his lot here sight-unseen in 1985, a week after being introduced to the tidal flows of Beaufort County.

He stresses that the parade is open to all boats with navigational lights. "All you have to do is follow the leader," he said. Several boats from Beaufort Water Search & Rescue will be around for safety.

Borrmann will have no official role this year, so he gets to enter the decoration competition for the first time. The retired contractor and custom woodworker has built an eight-foot-tall angel holding a trumpet. She'll be made of chicken wire and filled with lights hooked to a generator in his Mainship Pilot 34.

When Beaufort celebrated its 300th anniversary last year, Charlie's wife, Mary Ann, headed a committee that researched and documented its love affair with boating.

Their timeline went back to 1733, and their report was titled: "Boating History: The Heart and Soul of Beaufort."

Which, during Light Up The Night, is lustily sung by Lowcountry children to the tune of "Over the River and Through the Marsh."

Related content

  1. Downtown Beaufort Holiday Weekend (with link to boat parade registration)
  2. Beaufort Sail & Power Squadron (with link to boat parade registration)
  3. Beaufort Water Search & Rescue