GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The annual Christmas on the Bayou sailed through and lit up the backwaters in Gulfport with a taste of the holidays.
It was cold on Bayou Bernard, but participants and spectators found plenty to keep their spirits warm.
David Felder's boat crew came prepared, only there weren't enough heating pads to go around. Thankfully, there were cookies, blankets and hot chocolate to help keep everyone warm.
"We've done it every year," Felder said. "Last year was even colder than this."
Felder enjoys seeing those who watch the parade.
"They are in the Christmas spirit and it just flows through the boat and onto the docks, and it's just great."
As far as decoration, there is no solid science. "I try to do something a little different each year," Felder said. "I just kind of throw them on some kind of way and stand back and look and just add and take away from there."
About 40 boats preregistered for the event this year, but the colder temperatures put some of the participation on ice.
Spectators gathered at the starting point on Gulfport Lake. Many of them were first timers and visitors who were ready for a good time.
"I was not real excited about it when I first heard about it," said Rolfe Hunt, a resident of Panama City Beach, FL. "But being here, seeing them get ready, I realized a lot of people put a lot of work into this and work together, had a big deal going here and have some beautiful boats."
It was the same for Shannon Roberts.
"It's very festive and everybody's really creative," she said. "I see a lot of lights out here, so we're excited to see them line up and float through. 'Tis the season!"
The event began in 2000 following the creation of the Bayou Bernard Boating Club.
It has been recognized several times as a Top Twenty Event by the Southeast Tourism Society.