The 26th annual Boat Parade of Lights kicked off the holiday season in Panama City on Saturday.
Panama City Beach Police was just one group to deck out their boat Saturday. The water lit up with a little over a dozen boats cruising the bay from the downtown marina to the St. Andrew's Marina.
"We had 13 that registered and we had 1 or 2 that came in last minute," says Rob Rosner with the St. Andrew's CRA.
Rosner was hoping to see more boats participate this year but "I think the reason is the economy is down and people aren't spending money on gas and boats." He says, "if the economy was better, we'd have better turnout."
The parade is normally held the second week in December, Rosner says they decided to hold it a little earlier this year. "It's a little colder in December and the waves are a little tougher, but we moved it to a little warmer weather," says Rosner.
The weather may not have been so warm but still, Rosner says, "I think this is one of the better years we've had."
He says with vendors at the St. Andrew's Marina during the parade and Winterfest going on in downtown Panama City, the parade became a much bigger and successful event.
Judges were set up at the Downtown Panama City Marina to judge the decorated boats, but it wasn't just about who had the most lights, crowd participation was also on the grade sheet. There were winners in 6 different categories.
**Winning Boats in the 26th Annual Boat Parade of Lights**
Best Crew Participation: Air Force 8801
Best Representative Theme: Reel Teal, Capt. Baggett
Government: Panama City Beach Police Department
Corporate: Betsy Ann Riverboat; The Ackerman's
Sailboat: The Governor Stone; Bill Hamilton
Power Boat: 1st place: Seas The Moment; Capt. Tualsen
2nd place: George Gainer
3rd Place: Whiskey Front; Gute Gutierrez