LAKE WYLIE — There are parade floats, and then there are floating parades. The latter launches Saturday on Lake Wylie.
Lights on the Lake celebrates its 24th float atop the lake, weaving along both shorelines from the launch and return point of T-Bones on the Lake, just beside Buster Boyd Access Area. The event is sponsored by the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce. Registration is $20 through Thursday, $25 thereafter.
The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. Viewing is best at the T-Bones deck, or at the access area. Homeowners along the parade route are encouraged to light up their on-land light displays, too.
Brad Thomas has eight years experience in the parade. His family’s entry won last year.
“It’s definitely an annual event for us,” Thomas said.
Around 12 to 14 people participate on the entry that becomes a “mini Christmas party.” Dinner is served on the boat and Thomas usually is involved from about noon to near midnight. He spends more than a week decorating his boat, which isn’t the same old instruction sheet each year.
“We vary it tremendously,” said the Belmont resident. “We’ve been Santa’s sleigh. We were a shrimp boat one year. We were a swan.”
Russell Partin entered for the first time last year. The Lake Wylie resident is enlisting his brother this year to help decorate for a return visit.
“It’s something for the whole family,” Partin said. “It really brings in the Christmas spirit.”
Partin enjoys seeing the “wackiest” takes on holiday lights. His decorating strategy is rather simple.
“It’s the one night of the year when you take everything that’s in your yard and put it on your boat,” he said. “And that’s what I intend to do.”
The parade usually has more than a dozen boats, sometimes many more. Weather often plays a role in turnout, though Thomas said his group will “have a good time either way.” Even a good time getting ready, as he comes up with something unique for the 2012 parade version.
“It’ll be a rock-and-roll Christmas,” Thomas said.
For more information, call 803-831-2827 or visit lakewyliesc.com.