December 15, 2023

Annapolis Holiday Tradition Shines Bright with Eastport Yacht Club’s Christmas Lights Parade

In what has become a signature event of the Annapolis Holiday Season, the Eastport Yacht Club's Christmas Lights Parade illuminated the waters with a spectacular display of festively adorned boats. This annual extravaganza, a testament to community spirit, featured 51 boats bedecked in holiday lights and decorations.

The tradition began with a couple residing on a boat docked in Spa Creek, at the heart of Annapolis on the Eastport side. Transforming their boat into a festive spectacle, they invited friends for a harbor cruise complete with Christmas carols. As the years passed, more boats joined the festive procession, leading to the formation of the Eastport Yacht Club. Over time, the event evolved into an official club function, complete with a spirited competition among members for the most creatively decorated boat.

The City of Annapolis embraced the Christmas Lights Parade, making it an integral part of the holiday festivities. The event has since grown in scale and popularity, attracting participants and spectators alike.

Notably, the driving force behind the Christmas Lights Parade is a couple who has dedicated over 25 years to its organization – Tom and Trudy Stalder, now proud members of the Storm Trysail Club (STC). Their commitment extends beyond the parade itself, involving year-round efforts in securing sponsors, collaborating with charities, and coordinating with various government agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources and the Coast Guard.

The logistical challenges are numerous, from ensuring the safety of participants to coordinating the opening of the drawbridge across Spa Creek for prime viewing. Steering boats with limited visibility amidst a sea of twinkling lights presents its own set of challenges, making the effort a year-round labor of love for the Stalders.

Jeff Goldring, Chesapeake Station Captain of the Storm Trysail Club, expressed great pride and pleasure in welcoming Tom and Trudy Stalder as members of STC. The connection between the sailing community and the Christmas Lights Parade highlights the vibrant and diverse interests of its members.

As a poignant footnote, Goldring shared a personal connection to boat parades, revealing that his wife Carol's father, Fran Schuster, played a pivotal role in initiating the boat parade in Ft. Lauderdale in 1965. Much like the Annapolis tradition, the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Parade has evolved into a massive spectacle featuring predominantly commercially sponsored and professionally decorated yachts, reflecting the enduring appeal of these luminous celebrations on the water.

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