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Lights of Hope: Fort Myers Beach boat parade returns

Posted at 11:10 PM, Nov 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-01 09:47:26-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — In a dazzling display of community spirit, the 35th Annual Fort Myers Beach Boat Parade is set to light up the waters this Saturday, following a cancellation last year due to Hurricane Ian.

President and CEO of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, Jackie Liszak, expressed her enthusiasm for the return of the parade.

"This will be our 35th Annual Parade; obviously, last year we had to take a year off. The waterways were just not clear enough for us to get a breakthrough," she stated.

The parade, starts at 6 PM in front of Salty Sam's Marina, and will feature 36 contestants navigating their decorated vessels up to Hurricane Pass, past the Matanza's Bridge. Among the participants are Devereux and Kim Davidson, whose boat, named "Lost and Now Found," carries a story of survival.

Their boat's name reflects the journey they underwent during a hurricane that swept away not only their house but also their vessel. Devereux Davidson shared, "Everything on our boat, including us, was lost in the hurricane. The boat was lost, the house was lost, we found the boat and part of the house behind 7-11."

What remained of their home was just the attic, as the storm surge had wreaked havoc on their property. Devereux pointed to a white light, indicating the flood level, he put that up himself to show people where the water went, over the house.

With seven vehicles washed up on their property and two of those in their pool, the Davidson's belongings were scattered all over the neighborhood. Devereux Davidson recalled the surreal experience of finding their possessions blocks away, "A month and a half after the hurricane, we're walking the streets, and I'm like, that's my dresser. We open the drawers, and there's a couple of my shirts in there, and the Red Sox one was the only nice one."

Undeterred by the challenges they faced, the Davidson's now illuminate their boat, parked in their driveway, as a beacon of hope for the community. "Since we don't have a house to light up, we keep the boat lit," they explained.

As the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce predicts heavy traffic on Saturday, those eager to attend and cast their votes for their favorite boats in the parade are advised to arrive early.