Christmas Boat Parade will sink without community’s help

Honoring a loved one — This 22-foot pontoon boat decorated by the Husted family won first place in its class at the 2016 Christmas Boat Parade Dec. 10. The decorations honored a family patriarch, the late Donnie Husted.

Honoring a loved one — This 22-foot pontoon boat decorated by the Husted family won first place in its class at the 2016 Christmas Boat Parade Dec. 10. The decorations honored a family patriarch, the late Donnie Husted.

PHOTO BY MARK WALTER

The DeLand St. Johns River Christmas Boat Parade has been a holiday tradition in West Volusia for more than 50 years.

After being canceled in 2012, the parade was rescued by a small group of dedicated volunteers. Since then, the parade has not only survived, but has grown to more than 25 boats in 2016!

DeLand St. Johns River Christmas Boat Parade Inc., which is responsible for organizing the annual parade, is interviewing local social organizations and businesses interested in assuming responsibility for organizing the future boat parades and ensuring this legacy of 52 years continues.

“In the recent past, all of the efforts involved in organizing, promoting, and conducting the parade have fallen on a select few volunteers,” said Frances Rogell, secretary-treasurer of DeLand St. Johns River Christmas Boat Parade Inc. and the parade committee the past two years.

“Reliance on this small group of volunteers restricts our ability to continue the parade and its philanthropic endeavors. We believe that the parade has a better chance for continuance and growth under the direction and structure of a larger organization. This would be a great opportunity for an organization or business to showcase itself and contribute directly to the social good of DeLand and West Volusia,” she added.

Rogell says that the organization and the parade are in perfect shape for transition to a new organization.

“The planning and administrative affairs are up-to-date and ready for transition. The current officers and committee volunteers, including me, have offered to assist in any way to ensure a smooth transition. We are just looking for the right home for the parade,” Rogell said.

In 2015, the organization was established as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and it files the IRS 990 postcard for tax ease.

The parade has significant local support from companies and individuals.

This support, along with the boater entry fees, have allowed the organization to satisfy all expenses and donate proceeds to local charities.

Past recipients of donations from the boat parade include the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch in Barberville and the Teen Sportfishing Association in DeLand.

The parade is financially viable, with seed money ready for 2017, but it needs the new leadership and permanence.

Help us find a local entity to give the parade the legs and arms to continue its journey in creating joy and wonderment during the Christmas holiday season each year, in the waters of Lake Beresford and the St. Johns River for our community!

This local tradition is well-attended and would be greatly missed.

Information about the parade can be found on its Facebook page "DeLand Christmas Boat Parade."

Please call the parade committee at 386-717-6297 or email delandchristmasboatparade@yahoo.com during February, as a decision will be made in March for takeover or termination.

— From the DeLand St. Johns River Christmas Boat Parade Committee

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