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Join us at the Boat and House Decorating Workshop

Date Saturday December 6, 2014 9:00 am to Noon.  Link to Workshop

PGI Civic Association

2001 Shreve Street

Punta Gorda, FL  33950

  • Topics Covered Include:
  • Straightforward  Simple Construction of Elaborate Displays 
  • Successful use of Carolers, Musical Instruments and Performers (crew)
  • Effective Themed Boat Decorations
  • Best Use of Color
  • How to Provide Music & Sound
  • Methods of Powering your Boatís Lighting Display



This is a fun, joyful and interactive parade. Its uniqueness is the interface between the crews aboard the boats and the spectators lining the parade route. This is the key to the enjoyment level of the crews and spectators alike. Beautiful silent boats will simply not raise the level of cheers and noisemaking from the crowds that boats full of people, music, singing  and motion (dancing) will draw.  Use of a familiar theme will make the crowd roar in appreciation.  Entertaining boats full of people having fun will get the most enthusiastic ovations.

  • Be alert at the helm and maintain an adequate distance between yourself and the boat ahead. Leave the partying and drinking until you are back in the slip.

  • Encourage your crew to bring sufficient warm clothing, as it can get cold quickly on the water.

  • Make sure your decorations do not impede your ability to see where youíre headed or to maneuver the boat. Keep spotlights off the helm and out of the captainís eyes.

  • Decorations  must be firmly attached.

  • Have sufficient electrical power via a generator or  inverter. This topic will be thoroughly covered at the Decoration Seminar.

  • Have a sufficient number of fire extinguishers in proper working order in case of fire

  • Keep the design simple, concentrating on a basic theme. An excellent uncomplicated idea, effectively carried out will have the most impact.

  • Multicolor  lights can be used, however limiting your colors to a few, or the use of a single color is most effective.

  • Consider the number of crew aboard and make their costuming an integral part of your design.  A simple and effective method is to have all crew members dressed in a single color,  and use accessory items like Santa hats, illuminated hats,  vests, large ties, belts, etc. ... to match your theme.

  • Decorations can be as simple as just lights to elaborate displays and they need not be expensive, but they must be fireproof or fire-retardant.

  • Plywood,  or foam core can be used for signs, props or backgrounds. They can be painted, glittered, or covered with aluminum foil, Mylar or plastic sheets. Under good floodlights these can look like a million. Large flat areas should have holes or flaps cut in them so they do not act as sails. Sailboats can make use of their rigging to haul netted displays and light strings aloft.

  • Consider the use of spotlights to illuminate non-lit items like large ribbons bows and displays.

  • Check your boat's ballast weight when fully decorated and with crew aboard and balance accordingly. The use of a walkie-talkie is advisable from deck to skipper.

  • Have one person in charge of the fire extinguisher by the power plant.

Determine how large a generator you will need. Don't underestimate the wattage, as your lights will be dim. Special effects and animation can be as varied as your budget, but you might consider the following:

    • Color Wheels For Spots
    • Fog and Bubble Machines
    • Live Carolers
    • Live Santas
    • Live Angels   
    • Live Musical Instruments: trumpets and bagpipes have been very popular.
    • Inviting a couple of local high school students with saxophones, snare drums, trumpets and even a tambourine have been very effective in raising cheers from the crowds.
    • Well secured Inflatable yard decorations are great as they can be quickly inflated and deflated, provided  they donít block the captains view.
    • Ideas without motors or power requirements using kid power.
    • A crew member pulling a rope, block and tackle, lifting a lever, turning a crank that moves props, a Santa or a reindeer, etc.
    • Carefully pick music to fit the theme and mood of you and your crew.
    • Place your speakers on the OUTSIDE where your audience will be able to hear the music. Use of white plastic trash bags will protect conventional speakers from water spray damage.
    • Decide on AC powered lights or battery powered lights and calculate your power needs carefully. More on this at the Boat Decorating Seminar (Click For Seminar Information)
    • Buy only decorations and Christmas lights that are rated for outdoor use.
    • Remember that both sides of the boat will be seen.
    • Use rope lights whenever possible on your boat. Rope lights are easier to string and won't get caught on netting or small items.
    • Make things BIG, tiny decorations are difficult to see.
    •  Make sure any figures and lights are fully secured and there is no chance they will come into contact with seawater, or become a hazard in strong winds.
    • Make sure the decorations do not obstruct the Captains vision!
    • Remember -  you will be 50í  from your audience lining the seawalls. Use this  interaction to your advantage.


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