A sky view of hundreds of boats on a blue water lake.

A scene from a recent Great American Boat Parade.

This year benefitting local first responders, The Great American Boat Parade will take place on Saturday, May 18. Committee Chair John Gunter is changing things up a bit to include an adjusted route and a celebration with a pair of concerts at Margaritaville.

“We’re especially excited that the event will benefit about a half-dozen first responders chosen by their departments,” he said. “And the celebration at Margaritaville is a major addition with the concerts and fireworks.”

The Great American Boat Parade, a 501 (c)3, began on Lake Lanier began in 2020. The first year it drew nearly 3,500 boats that paraded from Buford Dam to just south of Browns Bridge. The procession exceeded the length of a mile of end-to-end motorized boats.

“This year, we’re hoping to exceed that number and raise a significant amount of money for these first responders,” he said. “We’ve kept registration at $35 per boat, so the more people who participate, the more we’ll be able to donate. We’ll be presenting the checks to the recipients that night between the two concerts.”

The non-profit has partnered with both Margaritaville and Lanier Islands to offer lodging packages. The courtesy docks at Margaritaville will be open on a first-come, first-served basis to participants following the boat parade.

“Designed to be a patriotic event to celebrate freedom, we’re hoping people will not only decorate their boats in red, white and blue, we’re also encouraging people to dress in patriotic attire,” Gunter said. “It’s going to be a fun and amazing event.

For more information, search the name on Facebook or visit thegreatamericanboatparade.org.

Photo: courtesy GABP