Well folks, here we are in the midst of another holiday season. That means it’s time once again for Christmas lights, Mariah Carey only wanting you for Christmas, and pirates on parade.
“Wait a minute,” you’re probably saying to yourself now, “Did they just say ‘pirates on parade’?”
Yes. Yes we did.
That’s because it’s that time once again for the annual Pirates of Fish River Christmas Parade in Baldwin County, Alabama.
Here Comes Santa Claus
Though pirates parading down the river may seem a bit unusual, Christmas boat parades are all over the Gulf Coast and have been around for years. In fact, the first Santa Claus parade in America was held in 1887 on the Illinois River in Peoria, Illinois. Assorted boats, floats and barges floated down the Illinois in celebration of the completion of a new bridge. At the end of the parade was the main attraction – Santa Claus!
The next year Peoria held a land parade through the center of the city. The guest of honor, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, has ended the parade ever since. In fact, Peoria’s parade is the oldest running Christmas parade in the world and celebrated its 135 year on November 25.
A Christmas Miracle
Along with parades and lights, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas nowadays without a Lifetime or Hallmark Channel Christmas miracle story. And if any story is a worthy Christmas miracle story, it’s the story of the Pirates of Fish River.
On September 16, 2020, Hurricane Sally, a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds, made landfall in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Sally’s winds brought with them storm surges, freshwater flooding, and widespread destruction. Making matters worse, Sally was a slow-moving hurricane traveling inland at only 5 mph and causing even more sustained destruction.
One of the Gulf’s hardest hit areas was the Fish River community where Hurricane Sally caused massive flooding along the river. Many homes and vehicles that sat near the river’s banks were submerged. Power was out and local roads were impassable for many days after.
There’s an old, overused adage that says: “Every cloud has a silver lining.” For four Fish River neighbors, that silver lining was the new friendship they formed in the storm’s aftermath.
As the community came together, Charli Linn, Leah Wilkins, Mitzi Rollins, and Sayle Roberts became quick friends. Soon after, they would come to be known as “The Pirates of the Fish River.”
When COVID necessitated the cancellation of the traditional Fish River Christmas Parade, the group took action. They decided to hold their own parade – a Christmas Boat Parade. On December 5, 2020, about a dozen boats all lit up in their Christmas best set sail down the Fish River. Even a little Alabama rain wouldn’t dampen their Christmas spirit as locals stood out on their docks cheering them on. The parade was a success – a Christmas miracle in the time when COVID was playing the Grinch to everybody’s Christmas.
A Christmas Tradition
When COVID-19 cancelled the country’s 2021 Mardi Gras parades, the Pirates stepped up again with their own boat parade. By the summer of 2021, the Pirates of Fish River became an official community organization. Along with their annual boat parades, they also hold annual poker runs, river cleanups, and other get-togethers throughout the year.
This year marks the third year of their annual Pirates of the Fish River Christmas Parade. And they just keep getting better every year.
This year promises 30 boats featuring dancing dolphins, Santa’s workshop, a 12′ Christmas Pirate, and much more!
The parade will set sail at 5:30pm on December 17, 2022, from Weeks Bay at the 98 Boat Launch. The parade sails north on the Fish River for about 6.5 miles. Once it reaches the basin just past the County Rd 32 Bridge, the parade will then turn around. The journey from Weeks Bay to the turnaround takes about an hour and a half.
For more boat parades, holiday lights, Christmas festivities, and other holiday events, check out the Holiday Events section at Go! Gulf States to see what’s lit along America’s third coast. 🌊
No matter where you go in the Gulf States, don’t forget to take some Stuckey’s with you. From iconic pecan log rolls to classic pecan pralines, Stuckey’s has all you need for your next adventure. (They make great stocking stuffers, too.)
And if you’re still searching for the special Christmas gift for that special someone, then head over to Stuckeys.com. There you’ll find great Christmas gift ideas like our Stuckey’s branded “Merry Christmas, Y’all” holiday T-shirt. You’ll also find a variety of Stuckey’s branded hoodies to help keep you comfy cozy throughout the year.
What’s more, Stuckey’s has brought back the Stuckey’s Mystery Box for that person on your list that seems to have everything. They may seem to have everything, but they haven’t seen anything like what’s stuffed in these Stuckey’s Mystery Boxes! There could be a coconut monkey from Florida, a pair of Stuckey’s socks, or a John Wayne action figure. (Or there could be all three.) One thing’s for sure: Every Stuckey’s Mystery Box comes with a free pecan log roll and Stuckey’s merch.
What will be in your Stuckey’s Mystery Box? There’s only one way to find out. Order yours today only from stuckeys.com.
Stuckey’s We’re Making Road Trips (and Holidays) Fun Again!