Eastport Yacht Club Parade of Lights
One December night, a generation ago, people passing by downtown Annapolis saw a solitary decorated boat parading about the harbor. This vessel belonged to Jim Langer, a Spa Creek live-aboard, who in 1981 backed his home out of its slip and started what is now Annapolis’s most widely attended winter event.
A pivotal year was 1986, when the number of boats had grown to 40 and the parade attracted more than just passersby It became an official activity of Langer’s EYC Cruise Committee, as well as part of the Annapolis civic scene.
“Out of the blue,” said Anne Geddes, who was assisting Langer, “I got a call from Tom Roskelly in the Mayor’s Office of Information and Tourism. He was very enthusiastic, and suggested we make it a community-wide event.” Roskelly had seen the event a year earlier and decided a parade of lighted boats for the holidays was a natural for Annapolis.
In 1988, the parade was proclaimed the official Maryland Winter Celebration. Again, Roskelly was responsible, providing a videotape of the previous year’s Lights Parade to the Maryland Department of Tourism. The year 2001 was his last as Information Officer for the City of Annapolis.
The parade lights up the Annapolis waterfront with up to 50 boats of all shapes and sizes, power and sail, brightly decorated for the Christmas season. This festive maritime event is great fun for the entire family. Skippers participate for the fun of it, and circle the waterfront in two fleets: one circling in front of Eastport, the City Dock and the Naval Academy seawall, the other circling the length of Spa Creek, inside the bridge.
This year the Lights Parade will be held on Saturday, December 10, between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 PM. The event will occur rain or shine, with only high winds forcing a cancellation.
In the past, entries have included a variety of themes: Jimmy Buffet Christmas, Santa and Reindeer, Finding Nemo, Sponge Bob’s Key West Christmas, and such traditional entries as The Christmas Angel, Frosty the Snowman, Santa and Reindeer, and White Lights and Snowflakes.
More than 50 volunteers work all year long to produce this event, a gift to the city of Annapolis from the Eastport Yacht Club. Twenty to thirty thousand people line the waterfront each year to watch this glittering holiday parade.
You can take home memories of the Lights Parade by purchasing posters designed by local artist Gayle Mangan Kassal. These are available through the Eastport Yacht Club and area shops.
For more information about the Lights Parade, visit the Eastport Yacht Club website at www.eastportyc.org.