Nighttime view of large boat on Lake Lanier decorated in Christmas lights

One of the 35 boats decked out for last year’s Holiday Lights Boat Parade.

Although a strong storm caused a one-day delay, the Holiday Boat Light Parade showcased nearly 35 boats all decked out for the season. Designated viewing places at parks and marinas were lined with people who turned out to view the annual event.

“It was the best parade ever and we were able to meet our initial goal of $10,000 for the children of Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes,” said Richard Pickering, parade organizer. “Even after the parade, we are still continuing to receive donations that will help us exceed our goal. Our purpose was to support the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes, and we hope that people will continue to give from their hearts for these children.”

The group is accepting donations through mid-January at

Leading up to the event, originally scheduled for Saturday, December 11, organizers monitored the weather forecast. “Several days before, we realized that a strong weather system was predicted to come through the area on Saturday afternoon and evening. In the interest of the safety of our boat crews and everyone who wanted to come see the parade, we made the decision several days ahead to move it to Sunday.

“We put the word out to everyone who registered, plus on our Facebook page, on social media, and plastered it everywhere. Even moving it a day, it really went off without a hitch.”

Tom Stepnowski, owner of Lanier Boat Charter, won the grand prize for the best-decorated boat for the second consecutive year. “Actually, all I did was provide the canvas,” Stepnowski said. “All the credit goes to my first mate Stewart Loggins. He did all the heavy lifting.”

Pickering said the parade stretched for at least a mile down the lake as it proceeded from Port Royale to Margaritaville.

“We are just so thrilled at the support and the turnout to provide for the children at the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Home,” Pickering said. “Every time someone writes a check for the boat parade – and we’re still accepting donations – I hope that they will think about the impact they’re having on these youngsters throughout the year.”

To donate, visit