ST. PETE BEACH — Vina Del Mar and Pass-a-Grille residents will be able to view this year's Lighted Holiday Boat Parade after all.
The expanded route for the boat parade Dec. 12 was announced at the City Commission meeting Tuesday.
The new route will be about an hour longer than originally planned, but the parade will still start at the north end of the island community, according to Sean Hurley, a member of a joint St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena committee that is organizing the event.
Several weeks ago, residents of Vina Del Mar and Pass-a-Grille protested a shortened boat parade route that they said would end their 25-year tradition of holiday parties organized to view the lighted boats as they passed waterfront homes.
The residents were also upset that they were not consulted before the decision was made to change the parade route.
"I am getting a lot of phone calls from people who were unhappy and are still unhappy," Commissioner Harry Metz said Tuesday. "We would like to have it start at Pass-a-Grille next year."
Acknowledging that the new route stirred "a bit of controversy," Hurley said the boat committee intended to improve the boat parade by increasing boat participation.
"Our No. 1 complaint from boaters was the length of time it takes to get through the parade," Hurley said. "It caused a lot of boats to drop out early."
It is too late to change the north-to-south direction of the revised new route this year, Hurley said, adding that the boat parade must be held on a Friday instead of the traditional Saturday to avoid competing against other area boat parades.
"I am ecstatic that the route was changed to include Vina and Pass-a-Grille," said Commissioner Christopher Leonard.
The boat parade will start near Egan Field, then go through South Pasadena and turn south to end at the Merry Pier.
A boat parade viewing party and tree lighting ceremony at the St. Pete Beach Community Center will start at 6 p.m. The event will include music and a visit from Santa.
The lighted boats are expected to be in the Vina del Mar and Pass-a-Grille areas after 9 p.m.
The Holiday Land Parade will begin at 9 a.m. Dec. 13 at 70th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard, turn right onto Corey Avenue and end at City Hall.