Dixie Belle to Join Havasu Boat Parade of Lights on First Passenger Voyage | Local News


One of Lake Havasu’s most recognized personal watercraft is ready to set sail for its first passenger cruise since returning to Havasu – and just in time for Christmas.

The Dixie Belle returned to the Havasu shore in March, after about a decade in dry dock while undergoing long overdue repairs. The ship’s return to the water was greeted with enthusiasm by the Havasu public, even as owner Keith Fernung sought final approval from the US Coast Guard for the Dixie Belle to resume operations on the lake. Now the boat is expected to pick up passengers for this year’s Lake Havasu Parade of Lights.

This week, the Dixie Belle was docked at the London Bridge Resort. And although the ship is now adorned with Christmas lights and decorations, Fernung says preparations for this year’s parade are still underway. According to parade organizers, the Dixie Belle will lead the parade alongside the Tecopa de Havasu ferry and the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.

“This will be our first crew with real customers on board during the Parade of Lights,” said Fernung. “The Dixie Belle was leading the parade the entire time before it got out of the water. We are now 100% Coast Guard approved, and it’s amazing. We’ve wanted to do this for a few years, but we didn’t know when… we’re still working on the decorations.

Fernung says passing the Dixie Belle during this year’s Parade of Lights costs around $ 85 per ticket, with only 100 seats available for customers. Those tickets sold out within two days of announcing the Dixie Belle’s first passenger trip, according to Fernung – but he says daily scenic tours aboard the 68-ton, 32-foot-high riverboat will begin in the near future.

For show organizer JJ Gibbs, who took over production of the show in 2020, the Dixie Belle is a welcome addition to this year’s event.

“It’s cool to get it back,” Gibbs said. “She is an iconic ship on the lake.”

According to Gibbs, the Dixie Belle and Tecopa Ferry will be followed by parade participants – who number 77 this year. Gibbs says there are around 20 more attendees this year than in 2020, and that could be a sign of the event’s resurgence in popularity following the coronavirus pandemic.

“That, and the prize money,” Gibbs said.

There will be seven award categories in this year’s Parade of Lights, including a $ 5,000 “Best in Show” award. And entry to this year’s event was free for all attendees.

“People seem to be excited for this,” Gibbs said. “From the comments on social media, phone calls and emails… I don’t know how many I’ve received in the past two weeks, but it’s a lot. And the fact that the event only lasts one night only attracts a lot of people and provides a better spectacle for the spectators.

Gibbs says last year’s event represented a huge undertaking in terms of licensing and logistics. This time he was able to recruit more sponsors and start the authorization process much earlier.

“I’m looking to expand the parade every year, with more boats and more people,” Gibbs said. “It’s 100% non-profit… all the money we get from sponsors goes to cash prizes. What remains, we give. Last year we donated to HAVEN and Mile Markers Therapy. And this is only possible thanks to the generosity of our local sponsors.

The 37th Annual Boat of Lights Parade is scheduled to begin Saturday on the Bridgewater Canal at 7 p.m.


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