JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 30, 2016 – The Northbank and Southbank Riverwalks were packed with spectators as colorful boats paraded up the St. John’s River this evening for the 32nd annual Community First Jacksonville Light Boat Parade. For the first year, the Light Boat Parade coincides with the TaxSlayer Bowl, which takes place Saturday at 11 a.m. at EverBank Field.
With fans from both the University of Kentucky and Georgia Tech joining the local Jacksonville community to watch the show, all types of vessels from canoes and kayaks to sailboats and houseboats, pleased the crowds with their lighted masterpieces.
The event culminated in one of the city’s largest fireworks displays, the Holiday Fireworks Spectacular, which included displays from two barges in the St. Johns River and from the Main Street and Acosta bridges.
“As a treasured holiday tradition, I’m thrilled to see our community come together in such a fantastic way to support this year’s Community First Light Boat Parade on its new night,” said Rick Catlett, president and CEO of the JAXSPORTS Council. “And what a treat for all of the visiting fans in town for this year’s TaxSlayer Bowl. I can’t think of a better way to showcase our River City. All of us at the JAXSPORTS Council are proud to invest in and grow this signature event.”
JAXSPORTS, in partnership with the City of Jacksonville and the Light Boat Parade Committee, assumed management of the parade in 2014. Community First Credit Union serves as the event’s title sponsor.
“The captains and crew did a wonderful job entertaining the crowd,” said John Hirabayashi, CEO and president of Community First Credit Union. “We are proud to continue to sponsor this treasured holiday event while opening the viewership to locals as well as visitors to our River City.”
A panel of judges comprised of local business and community leaders judged the parade from Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. The panel took into account concept, creativity, execution and on-boat enthusiasm when judging the participants and identified the top performers in five categories.
The 2016 Community First Jacksonville Light Boat Parade winners are:
• Grand overall:
Boat Number 3, Vagabond, Captain Bill Morgan, “Santa wishes everyone a Merry Christmas – Ho! Ho! Ho!”
• Private individual under 30 feet:
First Place: Boat Number 27, Charlee Too, Captain Kevin Godwin, “Happy New Year, Feliz Navidad”
Second Place: Boat Number 77, Champagne Jam, Captain Ed Champagne, “Happy holidays to everyone in Jacksonville”
• Private individual over 30 feet:
First Place: Boat Number 32, Secret Egret, Captain Ashley Laney, “A long time ago, on a river far, far away…”
Second Place: Boat Number 5, Big Deal, Captain Will Inman, “This Grinch isn’t stealing Christmas because we’re making Christmas Great Again!”
First Place: Boat Number 39, Now and Zen, Captain Leslie Jones, “Peace on Earth and Love to All”
• Commercial/corporate/organized club:
First Place: Boat Number 62, Branch Office, Captain Kloe Thompson, “Freedom Boat Club wants everyone to make memories for a lifetime”
Second Place: Boat Number 1, Bounty, Captain Shane Cawley “Representing Community First Credit Union, the title sponsor of tonight’s event”
Immediately following the parade, the 2016 Community First Jacksonville Light Boat Parade winners are being recognized at an awards ceremony at Metropolitan Park. Crews from all boat parade participants are invited to attend the party, which features music, food, drinks and prizes.
New this year, along with a framed award and party for 10 at a local restaurant, all winners are receiving a TaxSlayer Bowl Package, which includes two tickets to Saturday’s game along with boat parking. The winners will also be honored during the game.
For more information, please visit www.jacksonvillelightboatparade.com.
The Community First Jacksonville Light Boat Parade
Marking its 32nd anniversary this year, the Community First Jacksonville Light Boat Parade features festively decorated vessels of all shapes and sizes parading through downtown along the St. Johns River, followed by one of the city’s largest fireworks shows. The family-friendly, one-of-a-kind parade has become a holiday tradition for thousands of families and out-of-town guests who gather along the banks of the river to enjoy boats decked out for the holiday season.
Community First Credit Union
Community First Credit Union of Florida is a state-chartered credit union based in Jacksonville serving anyone who lives or works on the First Coast. Community First is one of the 10 largest credit unions in the state, serving more than 120,000 members and with assets of $1.4 billion. Community First has 18 locations and 300 employees. A not-for-profit, Community First is a full-service financial institution offering banking, loans, mortgages and investments for consumers and businesses throughout the First Coast.
JAXSPORTS is a membership-based organization that was established to showcase Northeast Florida as a sports destination for professional, amateur and youth sports. JAXSPORTS is a member of the National Association of Sports Commissions and the Florida Sports Foundation. For up-to-date information on and access to local sporting events, the public is encouraged to become a member of JAXSPORTS.
More information is available at jacksonvillesportscouncil.com.