Mother Nature granted the Memorial Holiday Boat Parade, sponsored by the Island Estates Yacht Club, high tides, low winds, and moderate temperatures all of which contributed to the largest and most successful water-parade in recent years. Fifty-four boats, from as far north as Tarpon Springs and south to St. Petersburg, registered for the Saturday, December 10th event. This year the parade honored the memory of Charles "Fritz" Bentler and William Fey both members of the yacht club who passed away this year.
The parade began in Manadalay Channel at 6:30pm and navigated its way around many of the canals on Island Estates before heading across the inter-coastal waterway to Coachman Park. The parade continued under the new Memorial Causeway Bridge and down the Clearwater Marina channel before proceeding past the judging stand at Clearwater Yacht Club.
Judges this year included Bill Morris, City of Clearwater Harbormaster and the head of the Marine and Aviation Department, Bill Blum, Commodore of the Island Estates Yacht Club, Vice Commodore Mason Rascher, Rear Commodore Tom Smith, Clearwater Yacht Club general manager Tom Brusini, and Bess Bentler, widow of Charles Bentler.
"I've been a judge of this parade four of the last seven years and this is, by far, the best parade I've seen. Every year it's better organized and the boats could not have been more spectacular, "said Harbormaster Bill Morris."
The winners of this year's Memorial Holiday Boat Parade are:
Best in Parade
"Shady Lady" - Mary and Steve Levine
Power Boats Over 30' Category
1st Place - "Hawk" - Cherly and Joe Salerneo
2nd Place -"Slip N'Away" - William Schiffner
3rd Place - "Happy Dolphin" - Fred Allen
Power Boats Under 30' Category
1st Place - "Blessing From God" - Tom Whalley
2nd Place - "Mental Phloss" - Dominic Bianchi
3rd Place - "Sea Hunter" - Tom Tafelski
Sail Boat Category
1st " - Kia Lani" - Mike Judge & Roland Rogers
2nd Place - "Southern Comfort" - Pamela & Roger Sullender
3rd Place - "Island Hopper" - Carol & Howard Elwood
3rd Place - "DEHAMI" - Pat & Rob Leyden
Many local businesses contributed cash to help fund the boat parade and gift prizes awarded to the winning boats. The Island Estates Yacht Club, a non-profit organization, will donate all cash proceeds above parade expenses to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. "The Marine Aquarium does a lot of good for our area. The Aquarium was greatly challenged this year with many rescues resulting from Red Tide and they are always in need of operating funds. We are proud of the many local businesses for helping to make this year's parade a success. A plaque will be placed in the Aquarium recognizing their efforts," said Bill Blum, Island Estates Yacht Club Commodore.
Photos of all prize-winning boats can be viewed by clicking here.
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