The way they see it, this year's grand marshals for the 50th annual Pompano Beach Boat Parade have experienced the event from all angles.
“We feel like we've come full circle, from seeing it for the first time, being enchanted and wanting to be involved, to now being grand marshals,” said Gwen Ley, who along with her husband, Richard, were chosen by the Greater Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We feel like we've experienced it in all phases.”
Ley said it was an unexpected honor to receive the designation.
“We expected to be involved in planning the 50th event and we definitely wanted to be part of that process, but now we're getting to experience it from a different perspective,” she said.
The Leys have a history with the parade dating back to just after they moved to South Florida from Philadelphia.
“We moved here in the fall of 1992 and we were wondering how the holidays here compare to up north,” she said. “My husband came across a story about the boat parade and we thought we'd check it out. It was a magical experience - all of the beautiful colored lights moving across the water.”
The Leys joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which has been a part of the annual boat parade since 1963, the following year. By 1994, she had convinced many of their boating friends to also participate in the parade.
Ley said the boat parade helps to make the holidays here as pretty as they were up north.
“It's just as pretty,” she said. “Plus you can go outside without five layers of clothing on and stay out as long as you like because weather is no issue. I wouldn't trade it for anything.”
The Holiday Boat Parade, which takes place Dec. 9, travels along the Intracoastal Waterway in Pompano Beach, Lighthouse Point and Hillsboro Beach before ending at the Boca Raton/Deerfield Beach line.
This year the event will start at Lake Santa Barbara at 6 p.m., 30 minutes earlier than in previous years in an effort to encourage more families to come out and participate.
For information, call 954-941-2940 or visit www.PompanoBeachChamber.com.
-Michael Sasser, Special Correspondent
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