One of the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s longest-running wintertime traditions has been sunk this year by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Yacht Club of B.C.’s annual Lighted Boat Parade – formerly known as the Christmas Sail Past – has been cancelled for 2020, club member Mike Skulsky recently confirmed to Peace Arch News.
Each year, usually on a Saturday in early December, IYC members adorn their boats with Christmas lights and other holiday decorations, and sail from Blaine, Wash. – where most member boats are moored – into Semiahmoo Bay, doing a few passes by the White Rock Pier, where onlookers often congregate for the best views.
And though the ongoing closure of the Canada/U.S. border would seem to be the main issue affecting Canadian IYC members’ ability to get to their sailboats, Skulsky said most have actually made arrangements to get them into Canadian waters.
However, with limited space to keep them on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, boaters have had to scramble to find space elsewhere in B.C. to moor them – in many cases, far from home.
“We’ve scooped them out of the States, but they’re mostly scattered around Vancouver Island, with the majority in Ladysmith,” Skulsky said.
“We’re trying to maybe connect with the club in Ladysmith to see if they’re doing anything, but so far that hasn’t worked out too well. But with the whole COVID thing and all that nonsense, you can’t have any get-togethers anyway, so I’m afraid we won’t have anything this year.”
Participation in the parade has ebbed and flowed through the years, though even chilly weather and sometimes rough water doesn’t typically stop the event from happening, he noted.
“It’s the first time in God knows how many years we won’t be doing it. For the better part of 30 years, we’ve been out there putting the parade on in front of White Rock, so it’s very unfortunate,” he said.
“I hate like heck to say the event isn’t to be this year, but that’s just the way things are right now, I guess. Hopefully, we’ll get this COVID situation squared away and by next year we’ll be back.”