Yes, Virginia, it is a boat. The “Choo Choo Train” is one of many dressed-up power and sail boats that enter one of Annapolis’ most competitive signature events, the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade. Every year on the second Saturday in December, about a hundred boats emerge out of the dark, usually nippy night, and parade around Annapolis Harbor and up Spa Creek. The boats usually have a theme and decorating them with the lights can take months of planning and days in execution.
For many, the parade is such a tradition that people will go through all kinds of inconveniences to attend. About a thousand spectators ring the harbor staking out their best viewing spot early. The weather can be bitter cold with winds typical for the Chesapeake Bay that time of year. Parkas, blankets and a good thermos of hot chocolate are essential.
Waterfront restaurants are booked up months in advance with those who want a good, warm, meal while viewing the glimmer of lights. For a class-A viewing spot, The Harbor Queen, at her usual slip on City Dock, is guaranteed to be a better haven from the weather. The Queen will be open to the public 5:30 to 8:30. The cost of admission is a can of food for the Anne Arundel County Food Bank and a $5 recommended donation.
Whether huddled with family/friends on the Spa Creek bridge or warm and dry at The Chart House, parade watchers toast the hardy boat revelers as they parade their handiwork around the harbor.
This year’s event is 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday, December 13, 2014. The parade can also be viewed live on the Internet at: www.facebook.com/EastportYachtClubLightsParade