Jacksonville Boat Parade showcases more than 50 boats

Thousands show up in rain to witness parade

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Boats decked out in holiday lights and gear were showcased Saturday night along the St. John’s River. People crowded the Jacksonville Landing and Southbank Riverwalk to have a look at the show.

"It's a fun, cheery night to celebrate the holidays," said attendee Alexander Seals. 

Although it rained a bit, people were eager to watch this year’s boat parade. The tradition started in the River City 30 years ago. 

Attendee Shank Ambur said one boat stood out. 

"I think it was a military boat with the helicopter on it," Ambur said. 

For the past two years, the boat parade was moved to New Years weekend to be one of the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl events. Now, it’s back to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was followed by a fireworks show.

Boats honor fallen officers

One boat on display honored two slain officers, Jacksonville Sheriff's officer Lance Whitaker and Clay County deputy Ben Zirbel. 

Whitaker died this year when his patrol car left the interstate and crashed into a tree while responding to a call.

Zirbel died when his motorcycle crashed into lawn trailer that did not yield the right of way.

List of winners

  • Overall Winner: #39 Now & Zen 
  • 29’ and Under 1st Place: #64 Thin Blue Line Police Helicopter
  • 29’ and Under 2nd Place: #58 Tap and Wiggle
  • 30’ and Over 1st Place: #32 Secret Egret
  • 30’ and Over 2nd Place: #26 My Caribbean Soul
  • Sailboat 1st Place: #21 Kara Vela
  • Sailboat 2nd Place: #31 Zaida
  • Corporate Winner: #62 Board Room