The Bohemia River Boaters Light Parade in Chesapeake City went on despite foggy conditions. Photo: Michelle St. Pierre

Calling Rudolph: Foggy Night Doesn’t Stop Lighted Boat Parades

It was a busy weekend with holiday festivities planned along the water, with at least seven different lighted boat parades planned for Saturday night around the Bay. But thick fog blanketed parts of the region for most of the weekend, calling the safety of the lights parades into question.

The National Weather Service put dense fog advisories into effect for some of the Bay. It was a night fit for “Rudolph and his nose so bright”, as the song goes. Thankfully, all of the parades were able to go on with no incidents.

Conditions were the most tenuous on the C&D Canal, where the Bohemia River Boaters Lighted Boat Parade in Chesapeake City was to be held. Word went out on VHF Saturday from the Army Corps of Engineers that the canal would be closed to shipping traffic due to the dense fog. The closure would continue into Sunday.

On one hand, parade organizers say, the fog made navigation tricky. But on the other hand, with larger ship traffic halted for the night, the boats participating in the parade would have fewer obstacles.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources allowed the parade to go on, but Bohemia River Boaters founder Jonny Towers made the decision to cut the parade route a bit short. The original plan was to go to the mouth of the Bohemia River, then back to Chesapeake City’s basin. Instead, the boats rendezvoused in the basin, went past Schaefer’s Canal House to Dann Marine and circling back toward the Chesapeake City Bridge to the basin for a victory lap. 37 boats participated despite the fog.

“It definitely was tough to navigate, but following everyone [in boats that were] lit up did help,” Towers tells Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

Towers says as part of the event, food donations were collected for local food pantries and he estimates hundreds of pounds were donated.

Meanwhile, the lights parade in Baltimore, which runs annually from Canton to the Inner Harbor, also went on. Nonprofit organizer Sail Baltimore posted on Facebook, “The Baltimore Parade of Lighted Boats is a GO! We will go slowly around the harbor to stay safe but keep a look out for Santa and his friends as we light up the harbor.”

And just east of the city on Bear Creek, the fog cleared just in time for a successful lights parade. The Bear Creek Sailing Association said, “We were worried if anyone would see us when it started off in thick fog. Thankfully, it cleared shortly after the start and the light winds and warm weather made it a beautiful night for our fourth parade on the creek.” Thanks again and we’re looking to next year – the 5th annual parade.”

Also held on Saturday night: the District’s Holiday Boat Parade at the Wharf, the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade and the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights.

-Meg Walburn Viviano

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