UPDATE: Venice will still have a Christmas Boat Parade.
The community met the minimum number of boats to participate in the parade. The 25th anniversary parade will be on the night of December 7.
Sarasota, Florida - The Venice community will learn Thursday night if a long-standing Christmas tradition will sail into the sunset for good.
As soon as the sun went down on the first Saturday in December for the past 24 years, the intercostal waterway in Venice would light up with the Christmas Boat Parade. But this year on its 25th anniversary, the boat parade is in jeopardy of being canceled.
"It'll be shame if it does not work out this year," says Janet Boehmer. The 40-year-long Venice resident says she looks forward to the boat parade each year.
"Everybody has a good time," she says "The boats come, everybody is happy, cheering. It's neat. You don't see boats every day like that."
Since 1989, on average about 40 boats cruise through a three-mile stretch of the Venice's intercostals. Venice city officials estimate about 20,000 people line up along the marina, bridges and neighborhoods to watch.
"Any place in Florida has no better viewing area than Venice," says John Osmulski, president of the Boat Parade Committee.
Attracting spectators is easy; Osmulski says the problem is not enough boaters are signing up. As of a week ago, only 10 boaters had registered. Osmulski says a minimum of 30 boaters are needed. Boaters had until 5 p.m. Thursday to register.
Osmulski says, "I think the new generation of boaters are not picking up the torch."
Osmulski says without a parade, there are no sponsors to support the parade's charities. The committee president estimates in the past eight years, the parade has raised $19,000 in scholarships for Venice High School and $60,000 to youth boating.
Anita Deans, owner of Anita's Sandcastle says her business at the South Jetty would suffer too. She says, "I've been selling hot dogs here for 17 years. It's a banner day for me."
But Deans says if the parade is canceled, it's the Venice community that stands to lose the most. "It's not about the money, never been about the money. It's about tradition, about seeing families together with their kids, enjoying the boat parade."