The Patchogue waterfront took a beating from Hurricane Sandy, but this weekend, thousands will flock to the shore to watch the 19th Annual Christmas Holiday Parade of Boats on the Patchogue River.
Michael Bruemmer, the chairman of the Patchogue Riverfront Committee, which runs the parade, said canceling this year's edition in light of Sandy was considered, but the decision was made that people in the area could use a fun night out.
"People need to shake it out and celebrate a little bit," Bruemmer said of the parade, which will feature about 20 boats. "Celebrate that we are all still here."
Onlookers can watch the parade, which begins at 6 p.m. Sunday, for free from the Davis Park Ferry Terminal on Brightwood Street or at the Fire Island National Seashore Watch Hill Ferry Terminal on West Avenue in Patchogue.
This year’s theme is “River of Misfit Toys." Santa will arrive on the last boat.
Preview night is Saturday from 5-8 p.m. with People's Choice viewing and voting on tap. Free water taxi service will leave from The Oar, Harbor Crab Company and Off Key Tikki to each of the marinas where the boats will be on display.
On the Waterfront, a usual participant in the parade festivities, remains closed due to damage from Sandy, Bruemmer said.
Those that do not want to be outside in the cold will also have the option of watching the parade from any of the three restaurants.
Bruemmer said the parade began nearly two decades ago as a way to extend the season a little bit for the restaurants in the holiday spirit.
"It's really just grown bigger and bigger every year," said Bruemmer, the owner of Off Key Tikki.
Off Key Tikki is also hosting a Hurricane Sandy Relief Benefit on Saturday. Sponsored by the Blue Point Brewing Company and the Patchogue Riverfront Committee, there will be a free cocktail party and VIP buffet from 6-7 p.m. with live entertainment starting at 7 p.m. $10 donation at the door, 50/50 raffles on tap. Bring canned food, warm blankets and clothing. Donations will go to the Lighthouse Mission, the Greater Sayville Food Pantry and the Patchogue Neighbors INN.
Patch will be at this year's parade. Check back for photos and highlights.