Boat parade leaves river

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 13, 2004

Strong currents and high waters prevented boat owners from putting their Christmas-decorated boats in the Alabama River Saturday night before the Christmas On the Alabama River Parade, so organizes found another way to get on water.

Five boats participating in the parade lined up along Water Avenue in front of the St. James Hotel, giving citizens an up-close and clear view of the unique and festive creations.

“I’m very pleased with the crowd,” said Ralph Jones, president of the Selma Boating Association.

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“The boats look good. I only wish we could have had more participants.”

Those who braved the cold to see the boats also agreed that the owners could not have done a better job with the decorations.

“The boats have true Christmas spirit,” said Donna Carstarphen. “The atmosphere is so great. It’s like Mardi Gras.”

Carstarphen added that the fireworks display following the judging of the boats was “unbelievable.”

Cynthia Perkins, who toured the boats with husband Mayor James Perkins, said she was glad to not be a judge in the decoration contest.

“They were all really nice, especially the one with the human animation,” she said. “They were all winners.”

Probate Judge Johnny Jones said he was thrilled to see so many citizens walking along Water Avenue.

“The interest from the public was really great,” Jones said. “(The boat owners) did a good job decorating. The crowd was having and good time and everyone was happy.”

Ralph Jones and his family took home the first-place award in the boat contest.

“My kids came all the way from Texas to spend the week with me helping to decorate the boat,” Ralph Jones said.

Karl Hamilton and Lee and Babs Bender tied for the second-place award. Jack Smitherman and the Morgan Academy senior class tied for third-place.

“It took a full week and plus some to get ready for the parade,” Hamilton said. “Everybody put a lot of time into the boats, and it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of work.”

The parade ended after a nearly 30-minute firework display that lit up the night sky above the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

The Christmas on the Alabama River Parade is sponsored each year by the Selma Boating Association.