Boaters prepare for Biloxi’s Christmas on the Water

Updated: Dec. 2, 2020 at 2:51 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The annual Christmas on the Water Boat Parade is just days away, and boat owners are busy getting their vessels into the holiday spirit.

It takes a lot of work to get two Biloxi schooners ready to light up the sound for the Christmas on the Water Boat Parade. Crewmember Gabrielle Bonck is up for the challenge.

“I’ve watched the parade in the past from the beach with my family and friends cuddled up on the beach, staying warm, and so it’s been fun to be actually behind the scenes and string the boats and get them ready,” Bonck said.

Captain Ron Reiter is also up for the challenge - literally. He’s the one who climbs around 60 feet to tie the lights on the mast, and he said it’s all worth it.

“It’s Christmas. It’s good advertising for the schooners. It’s just something that’s a tradition more than anything else, something that’s always been done and the schooners are very much part of that history,” Reiter said.

Keeping this tradition alive has been a challenge this year, especially after a wild hurricane season and the COVID-19 pandemic, but this crew refuses to let that stop the show.

“A lot of things have been canceled this year that were annual events, and so this is one that we get to keep and that we’re happy to keep,” Bonck said.

“I feel very privileged to be a part of it. It’s been going on forever and it’s a big thing with the boaters and the people here in Biloxi and all along the Coast really,” Reiter said.

While they hope these boats will be decked out enough to charm the judges for a best-decorated boat award, the main goal, they said, is to bring some holiday cheer.

“I think everybody is just ready to be, have a lighter mood in the house and a lighter mood overall, to end the year on a good note. Even if things aren’t back to normal yet, it’s to lift your spirits a bit,” Bonck said.

The parade is Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. Around 30 boats are expected to set sail from the Biloxi Lighthouse to the Golden Nugget.

It will all wrap up with a fireworks show.

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