“We’re pleased as a Boat Club to offer ‘Christmas Afloat’ again this year. Boat owners volunteer their boats and spend many hours and dollars decorating their boats. This is almost entirely funded by private citizens who enjoy the River and enjoy our Holiday traditions,” said Ken DeWitt, the parade’s organizer.
Pirates of the Warrior is a not-for-profit organization of citizens who promote safe boating and recreation along the Black Warrior River. Christmas Afloat began as a yearly tradition in 1990 and was brought back in 2015 after three break years after the 2011 tornado.
Christmas Afloat is not only family-friendly, but it’s also free for the entire community to enjoy.
The Christmas Afloat event begins at 5:00 p.m. near the McFarland Boulevard bridge. Boats will travel down the Black Warrior River, ending near the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. In years past, the event featured a firework show funded by community donations. This year, Pirates of the Warrior is again taking donations, via a GoFundMe page.
The parade route will start at the Riverview Boat Landing just upriver from the Woolsey Finnell Bridge, proceeding downriver along the southern bank past the Cypress Inn, the Northshore/Rice Mine Road businesses, Manderson Landing, The Tuscaloosa Riverwalk, pausing to watch the Fireworks Show about 5:45 pm from the Corps of Engineers Property near the Tuscaloosa River Market.
Then the parade continues downriver past the Rivermont subdivision area, along the Northport Levee between Parker Towing Co., past The Levee Restaurant, and the downtown Northport levee.
The turnaround point will be near the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, which is hosting the Holidays on the River festivities. Once downriver, the flotilla will return upriver over the same route but closer to the North Shore, allowing spectators a second viewing.
Where to Watch
On the South Bank, the best viewing areas will be The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, areas under the Hugh Thomas Bridge, along the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk near the end of Greensboro Avenue, going upriver to the Tuscaloosa River Market, the Riverwalk Place Condos, and up along the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk to The Park at Manderson Landing at the University of Alabama.
Organizers say boats from all over the area are expected to join the parade from the Holt Lake on the Black Warrior River, Hide-a-Way Harbor Marina on the Holt Lake, from the Bankhead Lake near Birmingham where the “Boat Alabama” recreational boat club is located, as well as from Demopolis and other areas on the Tenn-Tom/Black Warrior River Waterways.
“We hope children of all ages will bundle up, arrive at the River early, and enjoy the lighted boat parade and fireworks show,” DeWitt said.