Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade canceled due to inclement weather

Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade canceled due to inclement weather
Video boat parade fort lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) – In an unexpected turn of events, the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, hailed as the “Best Show on H2O,” has been canceled this year due to inclement weather.

The annual event in Fort Lauderdale, known as the traditional kickoff to the South Florida Holiday Season, brings together the community and draws visitors from around the world.

Organizers decided to cancel this year’s parade in the interest of safety as adverse weather conditions pose potential risks to participants and spectators.

“After dedicating 12 months of hard work, it’s with profound sadness and disappointment that we have decided to cancel the 2023 Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade,” said Lisa-Scott-Founds, WinterFest president and CEO. “Our decision to cancel the event was based on reports by the National Weather Service, which suggests perilous conditions exist that may threaten both the safety of boaters and spectators.”

South Florida has been hit by wild winds and rounds of rain that are expected to continue into the weekend.

The inclement weather is expected to dominate forecasts throughout mid-December.

In its 52 years, only COVID-19 has forced the seventh largest parade in the world to cancel.

Officials said that the weather made it too risky for the event to proceed.

“With the high rises and the wind gusts approaching 45 mph, there’s just a recipe for a disaster putting any boats on the water in,” said Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Chief Stephen Gollan. “These conditions would be nothing short of reckless.”

For Willie Urbitta, he had his 82-foot yacht decorated and ready to go.

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The weather has been so bad that he couldn’t even turn it around on Thursday.

“I see the weather report, the weather is not changing,” Urbitta said. “It’s sad, but it’s safety first.”

The Historic Downtowner, located at 10 S. New River Dr E, had 150 tables reserved for people to eat and watch the parade float along the river. Now, workers spent the day on the phone letting people know that it’s not happening.

“It’s a huge disappointment, but we know that WinterFest does a phenomenal job of trying to coordinate this every year,” said John Conlon, manager at The Historic Downtowner.

The conditions on Friday were not the kind of weather anyone expected in December.

Beaches were empty and flood barriers were put in place to protect boarded up businesses that are usually filled with holiday crowds.

The one-of-a-kind parade showcases a display of beautifully decorated boats of all sizes along a 12-mile route. Organizers have said that the parade brings in over a million viewers in attendance and an economic impact of over $50 million to Broward County.

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