Saturday, December 31, 2011

Slow Down!

It's the last day of 2011 and I am sitting here at the kitchen table wondering where did the year go. Time passes so quickly, it seems like just yesterday that we were anxiously awaiting the dawn of a new millenium and yet we have greeted eleven new years since.

I chuckle out loud to myself this morning reflecting upon that landmark New Year of 2000. At the time, we were making preparations and taking precautions for what many feared would cause computers to crash, power grids to fail and chaos to ensue. Even the most grounded of us found ourselves watching anxiously as the New Year dawned far away in lands like Samoa. News services had reporters stationed around the globe, covering the events as the millenium arrived in all of the time zones of the world. By the time that the ball dropped in Times Square, most of the doomsayers amongst us had relinquished and decided to enjoy a few cocktails and cheerfully mark the transition from old to new with the traditional count down; 10, 9, 8, ...

Recollections of the unnecessary dread is not my only source of humor when reflecting on the days leading up to the new millenium. Not by a long shot in fact. The root of my cackling this morning lies primarily within the "Legend of The Tygarts Valley Lions Club Baby New Year." Back in the day, before becoming a Transplant in The Land of Palm Trees, this guy lived in a quaint little hamlet surrounded by mountains in West Virginia. In those days, I was an active member of the coolest Lions Club in the world, the Tygarts Valley Lions Club (we didn't sell brooms or light bulbs but we did give away tens of thousands of dollars annually to needy causes within the valley). Each year, prior to Christmas, the club would gather, with their lovely wives/significant-others (sometimes "insignificant-others" in memory of Billy) and celebrate the holiday season complete with an always humorous visit from Santa. Usually a Santa who was fortified by the nectar affectionately known as Lion Juice. In 1999, however, the powers to be decided to center the entertainment portion of the party around a visit from Father Time and Baby New Years rather than the traditional Jolly Old Elf.

What happened that night is still quite allegorical. In honor and deference to the upcoming New Years Eve I will share with you the "myth" as it is still told today by many of those who were at the party that night. The story goes, that yours truly, played the role of Baby New Year being ushered into the party riding in a wheelbarrow driven by Father Time. The story recounts that Baby New Years was dressed in nothing but a diaper and drinking Lion Juice out of a latex nipple equipped baby bottle. There are still reports circulating throughout the Tygart Valley that prior to his appearance greeting the revelers Baby New Years was left alone in the kitchen area of the lodge, adjacent to the main room where the party was ongoing, to prepare for his appearance and introduction. At some point, before donning his neat snow white diaper the kitchen door swung open and the wife of one of the Lions, a renowned local optometrist, who happened to be MY optometrist, walked into the kitchen not knowing that baby New Years was standing there butt-naked preparing to "tidy up" for his big debut. Of course, this story was and remains legendary, much like reported sightings of the Lochness Monster and Big Foot. I don't believe it ever occurred. There is no video proof and no documented evidence. Thank goodness that camera phone technology wouldn't come along for a couple more years or your beloved blogger would be a YouTube sensation. There is only testimony from those in attendance and their affidavit is called into question due to the extreme lack of temperance exhibited at the gala that evening.

Like most legends, the retelling of this fable becomes embellished as the story is repeated throughout time. My theory is that those who claim to have witnessed the fictitious event had their conciousness somehow altered, maybe by some type of parasite that had tainted the orange juice in the grog that they were enjoying. At any rate, it makes for a very humorous recollection from the past. Hopefully as you celebrate and revel the passing of 2011 and the dawn of 2012 the New Year will find you surrounded by somebody you love and in the company of a fully clothed Baby New Year. I hear the effects of seeing him in an unclad fashion is quite memorable. Happy New Years To All, From The Land of Palm Trees.
Disclaimer: I do realize that this story could likely go viral.

Friday, December 30, 2011

It's All Over Until Next Year!

I imagine that I would be challenged to find one person reading this expose that can't relate to it's theme. We all must experience the same sad, sinking and blue kind of feeling that creeps up on you sometime between sundown on Christmas Day and daybreak of December 26th. An emotion that sweeps over you like a brisk late December wind. The stark realization that the weeks of anticipation and preparation, the entire Advent process has culminated. For those of us in the middle years of our lives, we reflect on the comfortable feeling that the holiday provided, maybe the intimacy and closeness to our Savior that we experienced at a candlelight service celebrating the ultimate Christmas Gift given to us by God. To a youngster, the climax of the Season is marked by a heap of colorful wrapping paper and torn box tops strewn throughout the family room. Whatever the age, most of us experience what can best be labeled as a bit of "post-holiday letdown" around this time of the year.

This Christmas the usual day after Christmas blahs were tempered somewhat by the excitement and anticipation of a holiday visit from my sister and her family from West Virginia. Our holiday preparations and decking our halls with Christmas finery took on a whole new meaning this year thanks to a planned and sadly, too rare, house full of "family from out-of-town" here in vacation land. Since moving South to the Land of Palm Trees five years ago, we had never had the pleasure of Christmas visitors, which in many ways is very surprising. In each of the previous four years we would pack up our car on the day after Christmas and brave the snow and cold temperatures of wintertime in order to be with those we love the most at Christmas. Needless to say, when we floated invitations to all of our West Virginia relatives during the late months of Summer and announced that this year our plans would bring us "home for the holidays" at Thanksgiving time rather than Christmas, we were thrilled beyond belief when my sister accepted the offer and scheduled a trip to the "sunny South" for the week between Christmas and New Years.

The usual excitement of the days and weeks leading up to Christmas this year was kicked up a notch or two and we were excited to finally have members of our family see and experience our home decorated for Christmas. When we lived in West Virginia we always enjoyed the time that we hosted Christmas eve parties and visits from Michelles parents and sister as well as the holiday visits from my sister and before my parents passed away, my parents. But each year at Christmas there was always some degree of sadness that the ones we love would once again have to rely on a picture of our beloved Christmas Tree. Other than having warmer and usually drier weather, Christmas in the Lowcountry isn't any more special than Christmas in the mountains of West Virginia, but we have noticed some subtle differences in traditions and celebrations.

Obviously here the weather is conducive to Christmas not being celebrated principally as an indoor sport. In the Lowcountry, company and families often enjoy backyard barbecues, fires in the fire pit out back and oyster roasts in the evenings after Christmas leading up to the New Years holiday.

Also, the Southern traditions surrounding Christmas decor are significantly different from what we were used to from our childhood Christmas's at home. In the Lowcountry tasteful decorators make use of more greenery in decorating their homes, with magnolia, pine and mistletoe paired with beautiful and dazzling ribbons and bows. Facades of pastel-colored southern homes decorated with greenery, bows and ribbons are lit more with spotlights than icicle lights, and you see many more homes that employ the use of the larger, old-fashioned, colored lights that my wife likes to refer to as "Charlie Brown lights." Another peculiar contrast that we have noted when comparing Christmas here in vacation land with Christmas at home in the mountains, families arriving at Christmas Eve services on the family golf cart rather than the snow-covered SUV.

Of course everything that has resulted in Charleston being included as one of the top three tourist destinations in the World makes Charleston a great place to come and "play" during Christmas break.

The South Carolina Aquarium is always a favorite stop.

The beautiful Charleston Harbor and the Ravenel Bridge provides an interesting background for a family picture.

JD and Noah learn how to use the Joggling Board to "court" Charleston style from a veteran Charleston tour guide.

Needless to say, this was a Christmas to remember, thanks to a much appreciated visit from my sister along with her husband and daughter. We know all to well what a sacrifice it was for them to pack up and head out on the road just hours after celebrating Christmas around their Christmas Tree to come and be with us in our home at Christmas. But that's what makes families family, those little sacrifices that we do for those that we love and care about. Sadly, as I put the finishing touches on this blog post, that old familiar empty and slightly sad feeling is permeating my core, even though I escaped the usual day after Christmas blahs it is now apparent that I will still get to experience that post-holiday letdown after all. As I sit here in the quiet of the morning, humming to myself, Another Auld Lang Syne, (auld lang syne is a Scottish noun meaning "good times past") I am sad, but grateful and I remember a phrase that my brother often repeated to my father when it was time for family visits to end, "if I never came to visit, I wouldn't have to leave" and I am reminded that the time spent together with your family, however limited, is priceless and more valuable than gold.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas From The Land of Palm Trees

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saturday Night Oysters, And Oooooh What A View!!!

If you have been a reader of this here little blog for anytime at all you probably know that I am a HUGE fan of Bowens Island Restaurant. I just think that Mr. Robert Barber (can you say proprietor, errr captain of the whole shindig) may be the smartest man in the world, if not the luckiest. But seriously, how could you not love this place?

My oldest son JD, asked as I was placing an order at the bar for a glass of Cabernet, "does Cabernet go with oysters?" To which I replied, "don't know, but it does pair well with a great sunset."

But we did eventually get around to the oysters. Some like them steamed, just give me an oyster knife and some hot sauce, please.

And some like them fried with a hush puppie or two.

But most of all, I like the atmosphere. Since Robert re-built in style we no longer eat in the dock house which was actually just inches above the surface of the creek that produces some of the best oysters in the world, but even the new digs, which by the way is an architectural masterpiece, can best be described as "haute fishcamp". I remember taking a management class back in college, and the professor talked about how some businesses were very successful driving the absolute wrong way up a one way street. That is Bowens brand. As far as restaraunts go, you won't find many "right things" going on at Bowens Island, except great fried seafood and steamed oysters, an owner who always comes by for a visit, a bar tender who doubles as a cashier and inserts just the right amount of sarcasm into his conversations to let you know "he gets it", and of course, the best sunsets in the world. Yep, forget about all the awards, you can google the place and read all about the awards, and forget about restaurants that rely on following the manual in creating their brand, the sign on the wall says it all about Bowens Island, "people either like it, or they don't." I tend to like it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm Just Not The One In Control

For the most part I avoid publishing deep and philosophical thoughts within this blog, as I have said before, "that's just not the kind of blog that this is meant to be." But occasionally God grabs me around the neck, and gives me a good shaking, to remind me that it's not about me, and I am definitely not the one steering the ship. Personally, this has been a tough couple of weeks for me, nothing public or serious, but let's just say, the livin' ain't been exactly eeeezzzzzyy. I don't know where it leads or what outcomes are on the horizon. Obviously when we are at crossroads in our lives there are consequences that result, no matter which fork we choose, that is what makes life such a challenge. But these three photographs taken in sequence this past Saturday night on James Island near Folly Beach at one of my favorite spots in the world, Bowens Island Restaurant remind me that regardless where I go, God is Great and invites me to take him along for the ride. Enjoy the photographs and hopefully you will find the same encouragement from them
as well.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas On Broadway

Michelle and I got all dressed up Friday evening and headed to Broadway for a Holiday Season night on the town. Well, it actually wasn't Broadway in the literal sense, but for Charlestonians at Christmas, The Charleston Music Hall Christmas Show produced by Jennifer and Brad Moranz is a reasonable facsimile. In fact, Jennifer and Brad's productions are so Broadway-esque that you might just forget that you are actually in the Holy City. The duo has been bringing Broadway quality entertainment to Charleston since 1995 when according to Jennifer, quoted in an interview published in Lowcountry Leaders in 2009, “We were certainly destined to land here. We came here with a great opportunity in store and even after that we’ve been able to keep our dreams alive.”

Jennifer and Brad both have stellar musical entertainment pedigrees, she danced in the original Broadway production of "42nd Street" after a stint high-kicking as one of the world famous Radio City Music Hall Rockettes in New York City. The mister has an impressive list of Broadway stage and television appearances to his credit. We were sooooo impressed with the production, the lighting was UNBELIEVABLE and the set transported you into a winter wonderland, and the show from beginning to end exceeded our expectations.

Of course, the production is only half of the story of our Friday night holiday outing. The Charleston Music Hall provides a grand venue for any production, and add the Christmas decorations and what you end up with is a classic concert hall teeming with an abundance of Christmas Spirit. Adding to the fun we finished off our night out in style with a late evening dinner at 39 Rue De Jean, a quaint French spot located litterally across the alley from the Music Hall. My good friend Lisa from Charleston Treasures published a review on Rue a couple of weeks ago, check it out here.

Michelle ordered the French Onion Soup that looked fabulous.

And I started out with les plateaux de fromage, or for you non-French speaking people, a plate of cheese. Actually, don't be fooled, stealing a line from Home Alone, after all it is Christmas, I am what the French call les incompetents. Once again, translated, "me no know no French."

And of course we finished off our dinner at the French Cafe with a couple of burgers and fries. OK, at least my burger had roguefort cheese and the fries were actually pommes frites, tasty little fries seasoned with sea-salt. Yumm!

But seriously if you have the opportunity to see the Charleston Christmas Show, by all means, do it. You will thank me for the tip, From The Land of Palm Trees.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas in Dixie

The "Dome of Delight" has been in control of the weather machine around the Lowcountry this week and consequently I have been blessed with a great weather week to be off from work. Playing golf in shorts was a treat this week but the words, "it sure doesn't feel like Christmas" flow off the tongue quite readily when the temps are in the mid-70's. You won't hear me complain though, actually it reminds me of the weather that we had for the first two years we lived here, back in '07 and '08.

Late yesterday afternoon, just before dusk, Michelle and I took a walk around the neighborhood, to help burn off the extra calories we have been tempted with lately as well as to check out the many tastefully decorated houses on our streets. As a child, one of the most exciting Christmas activities was when mom and dad would load us into the car to drive around town looking at the Christmas decorations. That same spirit obviously pervaded our souls yesterday afternoon as we strolled along the streets absorbed in the greenery and christmas ribbons displayed. It was like taking a walk through the pages of Southern Living, White Gables really has some tasteful residents who know how to deck the halls.

On our walk we enjoyed the traditional.

Lime green bows are very popular this year, we saw them used in several ensembles.

The section of row-houses near the entrance to White Gables reminds me of a southern version of Dicken's Village with the gas lights and piazzas bedazzled with greens and reds.

There were snowmen and soldiers.

We saw palm trees and flower boxes

Magnolia trees with lights, ornaments and presents.

But most of all we marveled at the creativity of our neighbors, the way that they have integrated natural plant and landscaping features into their holiday displays with ferns, magnolias and the camelias that are blooming this time of the year. Hopefully you enjoyed this afternoon walk about as well. What were your favorites? Do you have any Christmas decorations that have special meanings? Wherever you are today, Merry Christmas from Dixie and The Land of Palm Trees.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tis The Season... For Memories

This past week marked the anniversary of my mother's birthday and as always, it is a time of the year when my daily thoughts are flooded with memories of her. Not just because December was her birth month, but also because of the Christmas Season and her all-out love for everything about Christmas. My mom embodied the spirit of Christmas, and she didn't just enjoy the season, she embraced it year round. Mom's Advent Calendar wasn't merely a month of anticipation. No, not at all, her preparations for Christmas took place during the entire year. This all probably accounts for why Christmas is such a special time of the year for me.

It is only natural that I am a complete romantic when it comes to Christmas music. I flat out love it, all types, not just the classics from Bing, Andy Williams, Perry Como and Nat King Cole but also some of the contemporary tunes that seem to hit the charts annually. I presume that my affinity for the music finds it roots in the music's ability to trigger many great and magical memories from my childhood Christmas times. Even though I have thousands of generalized memories of Christmas' past and nearly every holiday tune I hear on the radio reminds me of "that year when..." there are two Christmas songs that are different for me, much different in fact. No they aren't iconic melodies like White Christmas or Silent Night, they aren't songs that I learned by heart in grade school either. These two songs represent to me exactly what novelist; Emily Giffin was talking about in her novel Something Borrowed : "songs and smells will bring you back to a moment in time more than anything else. It's amazing how much can be conjured with a few notes or a solitary whiff of a room." I am not talking about being reminded of a period in your life, nor is it merely about nostalgia or pining for days gone by. I am talking about a moment when you are actually transported through time momentarily to a place and time where you heard this song years before. An experience that conjures feelings which are as real and concrete as that day years ago, a vivid recall of an event, the people, the place and the occasion. It is a transformative feeling and then as spontaneously as it occurs, it exits, leaving you with an extreme feeling of happiness and appreciation for the past. Scientists who study memory refer to the phenomenon as "autobiographical memory" or a memory system consiting of episodes recollected from ones past, based upon a combination of personal experiences, objects, places, events, and people as well as their general knowledge base of facts surrounding the memory.

The first song that prompts this memory for me is Feliz Navidad, the original version by Jose Feliciani. I know, it's quite cheesy but let me explain. The year was 1970 and I was 8 years old and in the third grade. This was a time before 24-hour cable news and really before the proliferation of FM radio. Radio stations did not dedicate an entire six weeks of programming to Christmas music, but the pop stations would mix newly released novelty Christmas songs into their limited playlist. One of the songs being played on the radio in the weeks leading up to Christmas was Feliz Navidad. It was catchy, a song that you could sing along with and for the most part have no earthly idea what the heck you were singing, until the chorus when you would blare out, "I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas..." My transformational experience of autobiographical memory with this song places me in my darkened bedroom, dimly lit by the soft but all so familiar glow of the blue Christmas lights hung outside of my bedroom window. I am lying in bed listening to the local AM radio station on my transistor radio. I am way too excited to go to sleep, you see, it is Christmas Eve Eve. I desire to fall asleep because when I wake up it will be Christmas Eve morning, the second most exciting day of the year, and the LONGEST day in history. As the chorus of the song nears, I can feel myself ready to bust out of my skin with anticipation. Then, it is gone, the vivid recollection that is, I still have a warm memory but for a couple of seconds, that seemed like several minutes I realize that indeed, I was there, if but for a moment I was back in my twin bed eagerly awaiting the arrival of Christmas.

The other song that has the ability to transport me into the past, is a compilation produced by some of the most popular British Pop Stars of the day. Musically speaking, the song was ground-breaking in many aspects. The super group of stars called themselves Bandaid and their cause was famine relief in Ethiopia. The song became number one on the charts that year, 1984. Who could ever forget Boy George crooning, "and in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy," or the rough and commanding vocals of Irish superstar Bono as he urges, "well tonight thank God it's them instead of you." The backbeat is compliments of Phil Collins, drummer from the band Genesis, the video of the song was a made for MTV success and the result was a contemporary holiday blockbuster.

This song, like Feliz Navidad, has taken me out of the present to a Christmas past as well. This time, it is December 6, 1984. I had just completed my final class at West Virginia University School of Pharmacy and all that stood between me and my degree was final exams. That afternoon after class I hurried back to my apartment, loaded the last few boxes into my Ford Escort, locked the door and turned my keys in at the office, marking the end of a chapter in my young life. I made the drive to my parent's house, where I would be living for 3 weeks before moving out again to begin my first job as a pharmacist. I was excited to be going home for Christmas, but I was also somewhat melancholy about leaving the carefree college lifestyle behind. Arriving at home, I was greeted by my father, who was all smiles and I heard my mom yell from the kitchen, "welcome home." After unpacking the car I joined my dad at the kitchen table, the nerve center of this Christmas house. Dad was working a crossword puzzle, one of his favorite pastimes and of course, mom was busy with a batch of her famous peanut butter fudge. The kitchen smelled sweet and heavenly, the house was warm, too warm indeed, but it was home, it was comfortable. The collection of Christmas cards received were hung perfectly along the door frame leading from the kitchen into the living room. The entire house, inside and out, was all decked out for Christmas. This house, this refuge was never as completely a home as it was during Christmas time. The small stereo that resided under the kitchen cabinets on the countertop was tuned to WFGM, the local FM radio station and the now familiar bells introducing the hot new Christmas song, "Do They Know It's Christmas," began to ring out from the speakers. I don't think that it was the song so much as the intense feeling of relief knowing that I had completed a phase of my life preparing me for my professional life and adulthood, but as I sat there reflecting on the lyrics of the song, the comfort of being home for the holidays overtook me and I was totally immersed in holiday cheer. It was comfortable, it felt right, I was in a good place. No, I was in a perfect place. That feeling, that day, that experience was and remains quintessentially Christmas to me.

Since that day I have received blessings in my life to numerous to inventory within this piece. I have said goodbye to both of mom and dad and now I live hundreds of miles from my boyhood home, here in The Land of Palm Trees. Several decorations inherited from my parents adorn the shelves and walls of my home now to remind me of those special holidays of my younger days. But occasionally, I will hear the combined voices of Bandaid and if but for a short time I am back at that kitchen table full of Christmas comfort and the excitement of things to come, still singing, "It's Christmas time, there's no need to be afraid."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tis The Season, For A Parade

There is never a shortage of entertainment options in the Holy City, and that is never any more evident than at Christmas. One of the best web sites that I have found dedicated to information about spending the holidays in Charleston, South Carolina is Christmas in Charleston. This site is a resource not only for the tourist planning a holiday visit to the city, but also a great place for Charlestonians looking for a complete listing of holiday events. Of course the beaches, the harbor, rivers and creeks provide tons of action especially during warmer months, but last weekend the Charleston Waterfront was the place to be for Christmas related activities as well.

Charleston Boat Parade 2011, YouTube ceciljohn09

Everybody loves a parade, especially at Christmas. That ages old axiom certainly applies to this guy, in fact, I am a sucker for a great holiday parade. I don't have a formal bucket list, which is hard to believe since I am a bonafide list-making machine, but if I did have one then a trip to NYC for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade would be near the top of the list, right alongside being a recreational boat owner. I guess it is somewhat appropriate that these two items are side-by-side on my list, that way when my sons are finished with college and are securely employed they can provide both for dear old Dad.

Speaking of boats and Christmas parades, the Annual Charleston Christmas Parade of Boats featured above in the video has been an elusive holiday happening for us since our first Christmas in The Land of Palm Trees
back in 2007. It seems as if each year we have managed to miss the spectacle, but I am happy to report that the streak has ended this year. Last weekend featured near perfect weather here in the Lowcountry and the opportunity to head downtown Saturday evening to the waterfront to take in our first ever Parade of Boats. Even though the Saturday afternoon temps were in the 70's as the sun set the thermometer took a plunge into the low 50's prompting my wife to pose the familiar question, "how could someplace with all of this sand and palm trees seem so cold?" In reality, it wasn't that cold but from our vantage point perched on a seawall beside the Charleston Harbor, near the pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park in Charleston the constant stiff wind off of the Atlantic provided the chill in the air that made this Christmas parade seem like a Christmas parade. Thanks to the hot coffee and cocoa we were warmed a bit, but gloves and a cap would have been appreciated.

Due to variables such as wind, tide and waves a parade of boats tends to operate on a much less predictable timetable than your average parade on land, so we probably spent a little more time harborside waiting in the wind than we needed to, although had we arrived any later then we would not have had a prime spot on the seawall to view the lightshow as it sailed past. There were thousands of spectators gathered along the waterfront from Mount Pleasant to the Battery and the parade and it's colorful boats of all sizes delivered as expected. I must admit however that from the sounds of music blaring from the boats and the scenes of boat passengers dancing on deck under the stars this is one parade where the parade participants definitely have more fun than those gathered to watch. Maybe one of these years I will be fortunate enough to experience the Annual Christmas Parade of Boats from the water as opposed to beside the water.