Franklin County Boat Club gifts early Christmas cheer with lighted boat parade

  • Spectators watch the fireworks show from boats on Barton Cove as part of the 2019 Christmas in July celebration. The event, called Christmas on the River this year, will return Saturday. Staff File Photo/Shelby Ashline

  • Boats participating in the 2019 Christmas in July boat parade set out onto Barton Cove to circle before a crowd watching from Unity Park. The event, called Christmas on the River this year, will return Saturday. Staff File Photo/Shelby Ashline

  • Boats participating in the 2019 Christmas in July boat parade set out onto Barton Cove to circle before a crowd watching from Unity Park. The event, called Christmas on the River this year, will return Saturday. Staff File Photo/Shelby Ashline

Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2021 2:37:00 PM

GILL — The Franklin County Boat Club looks to bring Christmas cheer to the Connecticut River on Saturday.

Yes, you read that right. Usually titled “Christmas in July,” this year’s “Christmas on the River” continues the club’s 18-year tradition.

Youth-oriented activities throughout the day for club members help flesh out the feeling of a true holiday. The highlight of Christmas on the River, though, is at dusk, when a fleet of decorated boats takes to Barton Cove to usher in a nighttime fireworks show.

The day of events begins at 11 a.m. at the Franklin County Boat Club with family-friendly activities that are exclusively for members. Sharon Constantine, club treasurer and chair of Christmas by the River, said activities will include, but are not limited to, a water slide, balloon art, food and gifts from Santa Claus. Dinner begins at 6 p.m.

Constantine said the lighted boat parade, which will start at around 8 p.m., is free and open for the public, with spectators watching from Unity Park in Turners Falls across the water. She said the boats drive around in circles to show off their Christmas-themed decor and bright light displays. The parade is judged by a panel based on who has the best presentation.

“When the boats go by, they would just cheer for the ones they love,” Constantine said, reminiscing on past years when Unity Park has been “packed” with attendees. “We had to cancel last year because of COVID. People looked forward to it. ... We’re just hoping for the best.”

Santa Claus will join the boats on the water, along with disc jockey Lee Tirrell, who will provide music.

The night will conclude with a fireworks show at around 9 p.m. The fireworks are also visible from Unity Park.

Constantine said funding for the festivities was raised internally through independent fundraisers and donations from Franklin County Boat Club members. Leftover sponsorship money from previous years helped fund the fireworks.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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