Boat show takes festivities afloat

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 14, 2003

It was raining off and on. It was cold. But it was also getting nigh onto Christmas.

So the hardy landlubbers who make up the Selma Boating Association &045; or at least those members who didn’t mind the rain and the cold &045; launched another Christmas on the River Saturday night.

Appreciative Selmians gathered on the banks of the Alabama River to watch the fireworks and the gaily decorated boats as they steamed upriver from the city marina to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, turned around and returned to their home port.

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Melanie Henry said she’s watched other Christmases on the River, but this was her first time to decorate a boat herself. She was helped by Heather Bender.

Henry said her reward was seeing the other boats all lit up and floating down the river. Bender said she’d be satisfied if she could just stay warm.

Over at the next dock, Gary and Debra Smith were preparing for their third Christmas on the River.

Decorating a boat calls for a bit more ingenuity than decorating a Christmas tree, but Debra Smith proved herself more than equal to the task. Her secret? Wire tomato stakes from the garden turned upside down to resemble Christmas trees. She dresses each one up with roughly 450 tiny lights. It takes about two hours per &uot;tree.&uot; Viewed from the bank, they look just like the real McCoy.

This was Chet Dalley’s first Christmas on the River. He’s been meaning to participate before now but just hasn’t been able to find the time.

Dalley is a professional diver and often travels to foreign countries, where he does a lot of salvage work. That’s how he came to own the boat he decorated this year. Three years ago it was floating upside down in the Alabama River.

He even found the time to decorate it. Told it looked very Christmas-y, he shrugged and said, &uot;It’s something to do.&uot;