These holiday parades can float

At holiday time, the folks up North have home-field advantage.

Sleigh rides in the snow are celebrated in beloved Christmas carols. Wintry towns inspired Norman Rockwell paintings, while snowbirds in cabana-wear are relegated to novelty postcards. Santa is overdressed for tropical December weather.

Yet there are advantages to holidays with sand and surf. When my kids were younger, one of our holiday traditions was playing touch football on the beach, which is blissfully quiet on Christmas Day.

No, we can't skate on frozen ponds, but we have holiday boat parades, which are even better:

•Hillsborough River Holiday Boat Parade, Tampa, 6 p.m. today: Parade departs from the Lowry Park boat ramp and travels upriver to Sulphur Springs City Pool Park.

•Leesburg's Christmas on the Water, 6 p.m. today: The boat parade casts off from the Ski Beach at Venetian Gardens. 352-326-8274

•St. Johns River Christmas Boat Parade, dusk Dec. 14: Annual parade runs along the St. Johns River from Catfish Bend (Marker 36) north of Whitehair Bridge to the north end of Lake Beresford in DeLand. 386-801-5685

•Cocoa Beach Christmas Boat Parade, 6 p.m. Dec. 14: The lighted boat parade will travel along the Intracoastal Waterway.

•Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, 6 p.m. Dec. 14: A South Florida tradition for more than 40 years, the boat parade travels along the waterfront in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

•Winter Park Boat Parade and Festival of Lights, 6:45 p.m. Dec. 14: The boat parade will begin on Lake Virginia and continue through Palm Canal to Lake Osceola for judging at the viewing spot on the grounds of the Albin Polasek Museum in Winter Park.

•Melbourne Christmas Lights Boat Parade, dusk Dec. 15: The boat parade departs from Manatee Cove Marina (Patrick Air Force Base) for a round-trip journey under the Pineda Causeway into the Grand Canal to Lake Shepard.

•Johns Lake Boat Parade, Clermont/Winter Garden, 6 p.m. Dec. 15: Parade travels along north shore of Johns Lake and lasts about one hour. 407-701-8033

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