Rescue watercraft

A rescue watercraft from River Medical is one of 40 confirmed entries in this weekend’s Boat Parade of Lights on the Bridgewater Channel. River Medical staff spent about a month fitting lights and decorations in preparation for the event.

After almost four decades, the London Bridge Yacht Club’s annual Boat Parade of Lights is set to once again dazzle Lake Havasu City spectators, and bring big business to the English Channel this weekend.

Now in its 37th showing, the Parade of Lights will feature 40 watercraft bearing the flash and festivity of the holiday season on a course alongside Havasu’s English Village and beneath the city’s famous London Bridge. According to Yacht Club Commodore Karen Gurley-Davis, it’s one of the season’s biggest events.

“It’s a great family event, and one of the few times of year that campfires are allowed along the Bridgewater Channel,” Davis said Thursday. “We’re encouraging families and friends to come down and see the boats as they pass by. This is gearing up to be our best event ever.”

According to Davis, the parade’s popularity has made it a must-see for the Havasu boating community. The Parade of Lights has been named as one of the top 100 events in the U.S. by the American Bus Association, and has been called a “must see” event by the Arizona Office of Tourism. Last month, the Boat Parade of Lights was illustrated as one of the reasons AZCentral named Havasu among the “best” places in Arizona to see Christmas lights this year.

“This is a big draw for the boating community. We’re expecting lovely weather, and visitors will be able to watch the festivities, see the decorations on the boats and enjoy the camaraderie of other people on the lake.”

With support from the Havasu community, the Parade of Lights has been made possible by more than 60 direct sponsors and 28 supporting sponsors. With promotional efforts by the London Bridge Resort and Shugrue’s family of restaurants, the event is receiving more and more attention, according to Davis.

“We couldn’t put this on without the donations of our individuals and businesses in the community,” Davis said.

Every year, the parade creates a boom for channel-side businesses, restaurants and retailers, while bringing hundreds of Havasu residents and visitors to the Bridgewater Channel. Dallas Finch, who owns the Blue Chair restaurant and several other businesses throughout the English Village, is expecting a big draw this weekend.

“We love it,” Finch said. “It’s a tradition that needs to keep going. I’d like to see it become bigger, with more involvement from the community. My goal is to one day retire, and be in the boat parade myself. It’s great for tourism, business, and one of the things I look forward to every year.”

According to Finch, the event is a show of love for the community, and an exciting display of holiday cheer for visitors to the English Village.

“It’s amazing to see the work and effort that goes into building these floats, and the community involvement is amazing. The Christmas spirit is still alive in Havasu, and it warms my heart. And to see the same boats coming back year after year is a testament to how great it is.”

The event has traditionally employed community first responders as judges in the event, and this year’s panel of judges will include representatives from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit. Awards will be given for “Commodore’s Choice,” “Judge’s Choice,” “Best Corporate Entry,” “Best Individual or Family Entry,” “Best Nonprofit Entry,” “Best Local Entry” and “Best Out-of-Town Entry.”

Parking for the event is expected to fill quickly. Visitors unable to secure a parking space in the English Village parking lot can find alternate parking available in the London Bridge Swap Meet lot, on London Bridge Road.

The event is scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday night, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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