Christmas On The Water Happening Saturday

Rusty David says a few nay sayers told him the annual "Christmas on the Water" parade in Biloxi would never happen this year because of Katrina.

But he's out to prove them wrong.

David says some 25 to 30 boats will parade on Saturday, despite storm-related challenges.

David is determined to make this holiday event happen. After all, this marks the 20th year for Christmas on the Water. But while she may not stop the tradition, Katrina will leave her mark on this year's festivities.

"Christmas on the Water" is special to David this year. Sure, there may be fewer decorated boats in the parade. And there are certainly far fewer piers, courtesy of Katrina. But the event itself reflects the best of Biloxi.

"It's about the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It's about seafood. It's about the water. It's about the people. It's about families. It's about tradition and it's Christmas," says David.

"We've been working on the decorations and had some trouble. A lot of them were damaged and crushed and lost," explained Robin David, as she helped decorate one of the Biloxi schooners.

Both Biloxi schooners will be decorated for the festivities this Saturday. Who cares if one of the reindeer is missing an antler? The schooners will be part of the parade of lighted boats, cruising the channel.

"One schooner is booked and the other is still taking people aboard. We have tickets. It's 25 dollars for adults and ten for children. They're welcome to bring food and drink aboard. Blankets, hot chocolate," said Robin David.

There will be a few changes and challenges for people viewing the parade from land. For example, the small craft harbor has long been a popular spot for watching the boat parade. But not this year. Spectators won't be allowed south of Highway 90.

Highway 90 does re-open in Biloxi on Saturday, but Porter Avenue is the farthest east you can travel.

"The public will have to access Howard Avenue and then look where they can park a car. Legally park a car," said Biloxi police chief Bruce Dunagan.

Once those spectators park, they'll walk to the limited viewing area.

"To walk down to the north side of the highway. It's closed going across the highway. The sand beach is also closed. So the viewing area is actually on the north side of the highway," Dunagan said.

Rusty David says the channel is clear of storm debris, so that won't pose a problem for the 25 to 30 boats in the parade.

The event kicks off at 6pm this Saturday.  A fireworks display follows the boat parade.