Not too late to join Vero Beach Christmas parades by boat, land

VERO BEACH — The annual Vero Beach Boat and Christmas parades are just a few days away and yet it isn’t too late to get in on the festivities.

Both the Vero Beach Municipal Marina and the Oceanside Business Association are taking registrants for their respected parades this Friday and Saturday. “The more the merrier,” said Vero Beach Marina Director Tim Grabenbauer.

The boat parade, which follows the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Royal Palm Pointe on Friday, already has about 15 boats signed up to motor along the Indian River Lagoon from the Barber Bridge, past Royal Palm Pointe and into either Vero Isles or Quail Valley – depending the individual boat’s draft.

Grabenbauer said that he’d like to have more boats participate this year.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said, noting that the weather is supposed to be clear.

The Tree Lighting Ceremony is set to get started at Royal Palm Pointe at 6:15 p.m., though Santa will arrive by fire engine at 5:45 p.m.

The Boat Parade will get started at 6:30 p.m. and is free to register. Participants can compete for prizes as four or five as-of-yet-unidentified judges will rank the boats based on various categories.

The categories include audio, lighting, crew participation, originality and quality of execution.

Boat Parade participants have until Thursday at 6 p.m. to register during the mandatory Captain’s Meeting. That meeting will be held where the Vero Beach Power Squadron meets near MacWilliam’s Park.

Applications for the Fifth Annual Boat Parade are available at the marina office.

Those who want to watch the boats pass by can do so best at the fishing pier under Barber Bridge or at Royal Palm Pointe, according to Grabenbauer.

For those who want to participate in a land-based parade, they can register to be in the Oceanside Business Association and Treasure Coast Rotary 29th Annual Christmas Parade through Wednesday at 6 p.m. during the mandatory meeting.

So far, 45 floats and groups have signed up to be in the parade, according to organizer Karen Dodson. She expects more to apply before the end of the day Wednesday.

Last year, more than 60 groups had registered but, due to inclement weather, only about 40 or so showed up, she said.

The parade will go on rain or shine, Dodson said.

“You’ll see me out there,” she said, even if that means carrying an umbrella.

The parade will serve as a collection spot of sorts for both local food pantries and soup kitchens and the Marines Toys For Tots toy drive.

Parade-goers are encouraged to bring canned goods and unwrapped toys to fill the “Chuck Wagon” that will be in the parade.

“It’s all about the kids,” Dodson said.

The cost to register for the Christmas Parade is $50 for commercial and for-profit entries, $25 for non-profits.

Anyone interested in registering for the parade can call Karen Dodson at (772) 532-7983 or visit

Events at a glance

Friday – Christmas at Royal Palm Pointe

4 p.m. Holiday Stroll

5:30 p.m. Entertainment

5:45 p.m. Santa arrives

6:15 p.m. Tree Lighting Ceremony

6:30 p.m. Boat Parade begins

Saturday – Christmas Parade – Oceanside

5:30 p.m. Start

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