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Seminole Hard Rock ‘Winterfest Boat Parade’ cancelled

FORT LAUDERDALE — The 2020 installment of the popular “Winterfest” holiday event – scheduled for Dec. 12 – has officially been cancelled.

Winterfest hosts a varied lineup of events, but is best known for the unique “Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade,” which brings together scores of participants and spectators from across the globe.

Not surprisingly, the reason for the cancellation of the parade and other live events is due to the ongoing pandemic and the concerns organizers have for participants and spectators.

“Our team, partners and community supporters were very hopeful for the traditional holiday boat parade to continue in December,” Lisa Scott-Founds, president and CEO of Winterfest, said in a statement. “This was a very difficult decision, but we are being proactive and socially responsible for the health and safety of our community. That is our top priority.”

The parade – recognized as one of the top in the world – traditionally winds for 12-miles along Fort Lauderdale’s New River and travels east to the Intracoastal Waterway and north to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach.

The boat parade attracts scores of visitors. (Photo courtesy Hard Rock)

It is a boon to Broward County – an economic impact of more than $50 million each year, according to organizers.

Organizers are now planning for 2021, when Winterfest will mark its 50th anniversary. The first boat parade took place in December 1971.

TV special planned

Organizers have still devised ways that fans can still get a little taste of the boat parade this year. There will be a TV special airing Dec. 12 that is focused on the best of past parades with a “Home for the Holidays” theme.

The special, produced by WSVN (channel 7), will “blend the retrospect and a combination of special surprises,” according to officials. The special will air again on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

“We are bringing a hometown feel of family, friends and parade partners to this year’s special,” Scott-Founds said. “Winterfest 2020 is a reflection of our community’s heart and hope.”

Other new simulated experiences to expect include choosing the “Jr. Captain,” a coloring competition, “Cookies with Santa,” video greetings, flashbacks of fan favorite entries, celebrity grand marshals and local sightings of the parade’s mascot “Skippy” and Santa’s elves.

Organizers will also host an online auction with more than 250 items, including jewelry, vacations and dinners.

For more information, go to

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at