By Jane Smith
Boynton Beach does not want to be the Grinch that stole Christmas this year.
Board members of its Community Redevelopment Agency voted 5-2 last month to return the 43rd annual boat parade to a Friday night.
The CRA staff had recommended switching the parade to a Saturday night to better accommodate the schedule of boat captains and tried unsuccessfully over the summer to contact Delray Beach staffers about the change. Then, the CRA staff found out Delray Beach has a street parade scheduled for that Saturday night and its police need to have the Atlantic Avenue Bridge remain in a down position.
“In the spirit of Christmas or the holiday or whatever you want to call it, is that we go for Friday,” said community board member Woodrow Hay when making the motion. He wants the CRA staff to start contacting Delray Beach staff early next year to create a partnership.
The Boynton Beach-Delray Beach Holiday Boat Parade will be Dec. 12, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Lantana bridge and traveling south on the Intracoastal Waterway to the C-15 Canal between Delray Beach and Boynton Beach.
CRA board member and City Commissioner David Merker voted against the switch after CRA Executive Director Vivian Brooks said, “We obviously felt Saturday was better for the majority of residents of the CRA … based on the response from the captains. We started to work very early with Delray, but due to a turnover in their staff, and you can see from the emails, that there is a timeline that we need to know because we have to plan not only this event, but Pirates [Fest] and holidays.”
CRA community board member James Buchanan also voted against the switch. He said, “While we are being full of Christmas cheer and doing this for Delray, Delray has done nothing for us. This is a pure gift from our side … I do believe the boat parade is much better on a Saturday for people to attend and for the boat captains.”
Delray Beach resident Reeve Bright, who ran the parade for nearly 30 years, offered to collect some money to offset the city’s costs and concerns that the CRA could not spend money for events outside its boundary.
“I am not here to cast aspersions on Boynton or Delray,” Bright told the CRA board. “Nobody ever said and I never said, ‘Those bums in Boynton don’t want to give us any money.’ It’s a holiday parade, for both towns and that’s the way it was.”
A week later, Bright said he had some commitments, but he didn’t want to disclose their names or occupations. How would he describe them? “Civic-minded individuals who like the boat parade,” he said.
Bright is not seeking a certain amount or percentage of the $12,000 the CRA has budgeted to spend on the parade. Most of that, he said, was “Boynton-centric expenses: Santa, bleachers and other items designed to draw people to the downtown.”
The awards portion is about $4,000, and that’s where his group will help, he said.
To enter a boat in the parade, contact Amy Zimmerman at the Boynton Beach CRA, 600-9097.
By Jane Smith