- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Boaters on the Mississippi Sound are preparing to deck their hulls with boughs of holly as part of the upcoming annual blend of Christmas with Mardi Gras, watercraft and fireworks.

Biloxi’s Christmas on the Water boat parade will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Saturday, The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/21whTX0).

Rusty David, the parade’s chairman, said he expects more than 40 boats to be covered with Christmas lights and other holiday decorations during the parade.

The event, which drew a record 86 boats in 2004, has faced a slow but steady recovery since 2005, when only eight boats participated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

To generate interest, the Christmas on the Water Committee is raffling off $1,000 to any registered participant.

“We haven’t gotten back to anywhere close to where we were before the storm, so I’m doing a $1,000 participation award,” David said.

Saturday’s parade will begin at 6 p.m. and proceeds from the Biloxi Lighthouse to Point Cadet. Participants pay a $25 registration fee and have their boats judged on lights, theme, music and overall appearance.

David said the idea for the parade can be traced back to 1984, when Mary Mahoney, who was president-elect of the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce, told a group of mariners sitting around a dinner table at her restaurant that she wanted to do something unique for Christmas.

The seafarers, including David, were looking for an excuse to use their boats during the winter.

“It was an opportunity to put people together on the boats during Christmastime and have a real nice family event,” David said.

Two years later, the inaugural Christmas on the Water event was held with 28 boats.

Moss Point will also be holding a similar parade Saturday.

Marty Orgeron, this year’s parade captain of the Moss Point Christmas by the River, said about 25 boats participated in last year’s event.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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