Sunday, October 30, 2011

Florida History: Spring parade granddaddy of Fort Lauderdale's Winterfest

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Miami News, Jan. 6, 1937

Posted by Jane Feehan

One of the highlights of Fort Lauderdale’s winter season is the festive boat parade on the Intracoastal held each year on the second Saturday in December. Hundreds of thousands line the waterway to catch a glimpse of yachts decked out in holiday lights, themes and revelers.  Winterfest, an event planned a year in advance, kicks off the holidays.

The parade has not always been associated with the holiday season.

The granddaddy of Winterfest is “River Revelry,” first launched in 1931 as a 20 year commemoration of Fort Lauderdale’s birthday in March.  At that time, festivities played out over two days in that month and included a parade of barges and other floats – not necessarily yachts - that wended down three miles of the New River.  The first event included a Florida Power and Light float with a model of its new power plant replete with smoke emerging from smoke stacks. The 1931 winner was the Fort Lauderdale Shrine Club’s barge with a sultan, palm trees and live music.

This year’s Winterfest Boat Parade will float on December 10. For more information, see:
Gillis, Susan. Fort Lauderdale: The Venice of America. Charleston: Acadia Publishing (2004).
Miami News, Jan. 6, 1937, p. 11.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, Fort Lauderdale boat parade, holiday boat parade, Winterfest Boat Parade, film research

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