Fenwick Island to host annual boat parade

On Saturday, July 31, the Fenwick Island Yacht Club will hold its 5th annual Fenwick Island Boat Parade. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the parade will start at Sea Island, off of Schultz Road in Fenwick, and travel down numerous lagoons and, water willing, out to the mouth of the bay and back.

The boat parade was started by former yacht club commodore Bob Clark, designed to be in the same style as other boat parades.

“The Fenwick Island Yacht Club’s commodore said New Jersey has something like it,” explained Gail Warburton who chairs the parade committee. “He thought it would be fun to mimic ‘evening in Venice’ and it’s a big boat parade. He thought wouldn’t it be fun for us to do something like that. So now we’ve been doing it for five years.”

This year’s theme is “Fenwick Fantasy,” and Warburton is encouraging participants to decorate their watercraft along the lines of “whatever their fantasy” is.

“In years past, we’ve had, ‘What’s Your Favorite Holiday,’ ‘Favorite Commercial.’ We thought we’d make it really generic – that way no one would be intimidated by having to fit into a theme. So they can go as little or as much” as they want, she said.

Warburton noted that the majority of participants enter pontoon boats, but all watercraft are allowed to join in on the fun.

“Most everybody uses pontoon boats. But we’ve had kayaks, so we’re open to anything. Any kind of boat is fine. Actually, one of our friends was in it one time and had a small fishing boat.”

Spectators will be able to view the parade by going to any bayside street end in Fenwick or heading to Harpoon Hannah’s or Catch 54.

“It’s a fun thing. We want to just have fun. So many people look forward to it. They go in their back yard. There are a lot of houses that we go by.”

The parade participants will be judged based on a multitude of factors, with prizes donated by the Ship Store awarded to the winners.

“We try to judge them on creativity and design, humor, originality and keeping to the theme — how closely they’ve decorated their boat to the theme. We’ve had some really very clever things in the past,” she said.

Warburton, who has been a winner herself, said that a winning boat doesn’t have to be elaborately decorated, as long as it keeps to the theme and shows creativity.

“The year we had ‘What’s Your Favorite Holiday,’ as a theme, ours was New Year’s and my husband dressed up like the New Year’s baby,” noted Warburton. “We’ve had some very clever things. And you don’t have to do a whole lot. You can be very clever. For the first year, the theme was ‘Evening in Paradise,’ and one couple decorated their boat as just a huge set of dice and it was called ‘A Pair of Dice.’ It was very cute how they did it. So it can be very simple or it can be very elaborate, and some are.”

Last year, 12 boats participated in the parade, and Warburton said she hopes for more craft to participate this year. Registration is free and open to the public, but it is required.

Warburton said she hopes the event will help people learn about the yacht club and consider joining it.

“We encourage people to look into joining the yacht club because it’s a lot of fun. We have kayak races and boat races on Saturdays. It’s a fun way to meet people and a fun thing to do,” she said.

They also host a yearly cocktail party and end of the season bonfire among other events.

“We’re encouraging people to come and participate and if they can’t to come out and watch and cheer people on,” said Warburton.

For more information or to register for the parade, contact Gail Warburton at (302) 539-6467. For more information about the yacht club, contact commodore Holly Frederick at (302) 831-4407.