At last year's Parade of Lights, the crowd on the deck at the Deadfish Grill was sparse.  Before sunset had even come over Lake Belton Sunday night, it seemed like there wasn't a parking space on that side of the dam.

The after-party in full swing. Crew members of the Parade of Lights enjoy some warmth on the deck of the Deadfish Grill. Photo by Rick Smith

Other than some light drizzle, the weather was great.  It was a little chilly, which is exactly what you want for a Christmas parade, even one taking place on water.  The heaters were fired up on the deck, and I promise you there was not an unoccupied chair in the building.  Everyone was there to enjoy the food, drinks & floats (literally) at the 8th Annual Lake Belton Parade of Lights, but there were also vendors selling everything from Sensi to jewelry and clothing.

I'd been asked to emcee the event a few weeks back, and after the crowd I saw last year, I wasn't prepared for the mass of humanity on the deck this year.  My two (fairly) giant speakers were barely enough to penetrate the crowd and be heard.  My job was simply to make sense of the boat entries as they made their way past.  It was surprisingly more difficult than I anticipated.

Although it doesn't make for great pics, the 8th Annual Lake Belton Parade of Lights was a beautiful view from the deck of the Deadfish Grill. Photo by me.

There was a boat that was a no-show.  Another boat was there, but missed their spot on line and ended up at the back of the parade.  There were multiple boats that weren't on my list at all that still ended up adding some color and Christmas spirit to the evening.  Santa even rowed by on a kayak.  It was quite impressive.

Something they don't tell you prior to emceeing a boat parade is that the boats take a while longer to pass by than they do on land.  I'd announce a boat and wait 5 minutes for it to pass.  A few of the faster boats even did a few loops to entertain the masses.  As we waited for a 2nd pass of the boats, the official judges tallied up the points.

Once the boats made a 2nd pass we collected all the votes from the crowd and counted up the "Crowd Favorite" winner.  After the initial celebration began to die down, the captains of the respective boats made their appearance for the awards presentation and a dinner.  I also had a shot of tequila while I waited.  Shhhh, don't tell my wife.


Congratulations to the award winners:



  • 3rd Place Winner

    The Troy Leo Club. Photo by Rick Smith

    Troy Leo Club

    The Troy Leo Club is a youth service organization out of Troy, TX.  Their boat was donated by Rick Smith of Marine Outlet in Temple and decorated by the Leo Club.

  • 2nd Place Winner

    Jeff Leach and his #1 fan celebrate the victory.

    Jeff's 29-foot Boston Whaler was decked out to the nines in Christmas lights, and even had an inflatable helicopter.  Two US Army pilots were on board just in case they were needed.

  • 1st Place Winner

    Robert and his crew celebrate winning the First Place prize of $150 in gift cards to Deadfish Grill. Photo by Rick Smith

    Robert Allison

    Robert's 23-foot Malibu Wakesetter had a 5-person crew on board to bring home the top prize in the 8th Annual Lake Belton Parade of Lights.

  • People's Choice Winner

    People's Choice winner Bob Schwartz, AKA Santa Claus, with Jamie Garrett. Photo by Rick Smith.

    Bob Schwartz

    It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's the Loch Ness Monster!  No, it's Santa Claus!  Santa rowed his was to victory in the coveted People's Choice category.  In full Santa regalia, Bob kayaked his way across the lake and back to win.