Where can you watch the Jacksonville Light Boat Parade?

Good vantage points include various locations along the Northbank & Southbank

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A downtown holiday tradition will carry on as usual this weekend despite the demolition of the Jacksonville Landing.

The Jacksonville Light Boat Parade is set for Saturday evening. The event features a fleet of boats decorated and lit up with holiday light as they cruise down the St. Johns River.

Over the years, crowds gathered at the Landing and watch the spectacle. But this year, they’ll have to change their plans with the Landing closed and part of the area blocked off.

Some boaters and spectators are concerned the show might lack its usual luster. That includes Fred Acevedo, who watches the parade every year.

“My concern is with the Landing being closed,” he said. “That’s where families take their children to watch the parade.”

Jacque Welti, a previous winner in the sailboat division, was working on her boat Friday afternoon.

“It’s amazing how many people do turn out,” Welti said. “And I just hope this year with the Landing not as it was that we get a good turnout.”

The parade is set to start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, but boats likely won’t begin to sail until 7 p.m. The circular parade route runs from Metropolitan Park up to the Fuller Warren Bridge.

There are good vantage points to watch the parade now that the Landing is closed. Ryan Ali, who heads up the city’s special events department, said good places to watch it include in front of the Hyatt Hotel, the Times-Union building and along the Southbank near Friendship Fountain.

“This is a temporary year,” he said. “We are being very fluid about this.”

Ali said the weather promises to be clear for the occasion and, as always, the event will be capped by a firework show, expected to begin at 9 p.m. As with years past, there will be a waterfall of flames streaming from the Acosta and Main Street bridges.

With the Landing closed, the city has also shifted another holiday tradition. The city’s Christmas tree will be lit 6:25 p.m. Wednesday at Hemming Park downtown.

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