ABOUT THE PARADE OF LIGHTS
To many the Friday after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, is the official kickoff to the holiday season. But in Huntington, the day has been dubbed “Blue Friday,” thanks to the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society and its Huntington Harbor Parade of Lights, an annual boat parade that draws thousands of landlubbers to the shores of Huntington Harbor.
Holiday boat parades are a time-honored tradition in communities across the country. In 2010, HLPS President Pamela Setchell was inspired (and nudged along) by Dick Gildersleeve, owner of the well-known Crabshell restaurant (as well as the founder of the Stamford Boat parade)and Setchell decided it was time for Huntington to have its own. The parade would be a gift to the community, particularly since there are many area residents who don’t have the opportunity to get on a boat and on the water for the annual Music Fest on Labor Day weekend. The parade is a great way to “bring the light to the shore” while raising public awareness about the ongoing preservation efforts at the Lighthouse.
Since 2010 the parade route has grown to accommodate larger viewing areas and in 2013 homes and businesses along the harbor were invited to participate. Despite some rather frigid temperatures, cannons were fired from both the Harbor Boating Club and Huntington Yacht Club to signal the start for almost forty vessels, some traveling from the shores of Connecticut, as well as a half a dozen homes and business.
Each year we have watched the participants kick it up a notch.
In addition to decorating from stem to stern, vessels towed decorated dinghies, fired water cannons, and created a floating replica of the lighthouse. There was a DJ, the Eiffel Tower, a living room sofa, barking dogs, a snow machine and a marriage proposal.
While a fun community event, it is also a serious fund raiser for the Lighthouse. Efforts range from local cub scouts and members of the Lighthouses’ Teens on the water Program selling Christmas ornaments and collecting donations to pass-the-hat-parties, viewing parties hosted by local businesses and clubs, entry fees and t-shirt sales. All of the expenses involved in making the event go off without a hitch are sponsored by local businesses.
Once again we invite you to Save the Date. Be brave, keep the boat in or put it back in for the parade. Decorate your home and show your neighbors what it really means to “keep up with the Joneses.”