The Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade is in the running again this year for the nation's best holiday parade according to USA Today readers. Photo: Visit Annapolis

Bay Holiday Events Compete for #1 in Nation

Those of us living in the Bay region know our holiday traditions are special. Where else would you find lit-up Christmas trees built from painted crab traps and bushel baskets? Where else would you find 16 different lighted boat parades in one season?

Some of the Bay’s holiday traditions resonate across the country. In fact, USA Today’s 10Best has put not one, but two, Chesapeake Bay holiday events in the running for its Readers Choice competitions.

First up is the Eastport Yacht Club (EYC) Lights Parade, consistently nominated for Best Holiday Parade in the nation. USA Today 10Best’s “jolly panel of experts” nominate 10 of the top holiday parades throughout the U.S., asking readers to vote on which parade they look forward to the most.

EYC’s lights parade, running for the 41st time this year in and around the Annapolis harbor and Spa Creek, is one of the Bay’s best known and oldest lighted boat parades. With eight days left to vote, this lights parade is sitting in fifth place.

To win, EYC will have to beat out first through third place: America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit, Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.And just ahead of EYC is a competiting lighted boats parade: Fort Lauderdale’s Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade. Another Bay-region parade is also in the top ten on the list of nominees: Reston, Virginia’s Reston Holiday Parade, a tradition the day after Thanksgiving.

You can vote once per day until voting ends next Wednesday, Nov. 29. The top ten winning parades as determined by readers will be announced Friday, Dec. 8.

Meanwhile on the Eastern Shore, the Easton New Year’s Eve tradition of dropping a giant crab from the sky at midnight is also up for a USA Today 10 Best award.

Easton’s Giant Crab Drop is nominated among 20 quirky New Year’s Eve Drops across the country for a USA Today 10Best Reader’s Choice award. Photo: Talbot County Economic Development & Tourism

In the style of New York’s City’s famous ball drop, towns all over the Bay region (and the country) have come up with their own “drop”, usually of some kind of mascot that represents the town or region. In addition to Easton’s giant crab, Maryland has the duck drop in Havre de Grace, the rockfish drop in Rock Hall, an oyster drop in Crisfield and, yes, the famous muskrat drop in Princess Anne on the lower Eastern Shore. For its part, Virginia boasts the lighted crab pot drop in Cape Charles and a horseshoe drop in Chincoteague.

But the Giant Crab Drop is the one that’s attracted national attention, attracting a CNN news crew one year, and earning itself a nomination for USA Today’s 10Best contest for Best New Year’s Eve drop in 2023.

USA Today applauds the crab drop for being “an alcohol- and drug-free event welcoming in the new year. A dropping of the area’s favorite crustacean caps off the evening, with crab drops taking place at both 9 p.m. and midnight.”

Right now, they’re sitting in sixth place in the rankings, competing with such spectacles as a pierogi drop, a potato drop, a giant Peeps drop and a carp drop. You can vote once per day until Monday, December 4 at noon. The 10 winning events will be announced on Friday, December 15. 

-Meg Walburn Viviano