Viewers outnumbered boaters handily, but the enthusiasm was high on both sides of the bulkhead as Port Aransasannual lighted boat parade kicked off the Christmas season in the municipal marina at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9.
Santa Claus, aboard a U.S. Coast Guard 41-foot utility boat and escorted by Port Aransas High School cheerleaders, led the parade. Carolers Afloat – two boatloads of people singing Christmas carols – followed aboard the Scat Cat and the Island Queen II.
Jackie Gaskill paddled away with the award for the most original vessel as well as second place in the small private vessel category. Gaskill skittered about the marina in a lighted kayak. The awards were worth a total of $300 to Gaskill -- $200 for the most original award and $100 for the private vessel second place. Fisherman's Wharf sponsored the private vessel award, and the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce sponsored the prize for the most original vessel.
The Scat Cat won in the commercial vessel category, with the award sponsored by Port Aransas Realty. Island Queen II came in second, winning the prize offered by the Family Center IGA.
In the large private vessel category, Susie, owned by George Campbell, rocked her way into the judges' hearts. The vessel featured a red-clad crew of Santa, Mrs. Santa and elves dancing on the top deck. The prize was sponsored by Woody's Sports Center.
Second place, sponsored by Virginia's on the Bay, went to Orion, owned by Michael Miglini.
The Coast Guard's boat, flashing its blue law enforcement light, took the non-profit prize sponsored by the South Jetty newspaper.
After the parade, boaters and spectators – including the crew from the Susie – gathered at Fred Rhodes Pavilion while Santa Claus listened intently to the wishes of more than 50 youngsters who waited their turn to climb onto the stage and then onto his lap.
Each child received a candy cane and a promise from Santa to do his best to fulfill the wishes.
1. Scat Cat (Fisherman's Wharf) Sponsor: Port Aransas Realty
2. Island Queen (Billy Gaskins) Sponsor: Family Center IGA
Private vessel 30 ft. or less
1. Paige Magic (Alex Porter) Sponsor: Island Dunes
2. The Grinch (Jackie Gaskill) Sponsor: Fisherman's Wharf
Private vessel over 30 ft.
1. Susie (George Campbell) Sponsor: Woody's Sports Center
2. Orion (Michael Miglini) Sponsor: Virginia's on the Bay
1. U.S. Coast Guard #41417 Sponsor: South Jetty
1. The Grinch (Jackie Gaskill) Sponsor: Port Aransas Chamber