The holiday season in Freeport is kicking off with an aquatic procession down Woodcleft Canal.
The annual Nautical Mile of Lights Boat Parade is set to launch around 7 p.m. on Dec. 12, and it’s open to all boaters. "Anyone can join in," explains Ben Jackson, owner of Ben's General Contracting Corp. and the first vice president of the Freeport Chamber of Commerce. "You just dock along the mile and wait for a spot to jump in. It is a magical evening."
However, you don’t need a vessel to take in the show. Jackson adds, "People along the water come out from their homes to see all the decorated boats," while those who may visit the Nautical Mile to witness the event can get seats on departing partyboats or sit dockside at Nautical Mile restaurants.
The festivities kick off at 5:30 p.m. with a tree lighting at the Woodcleft Esplanade (205 Woodcleft Ave.). A second tree lighting is also set for Freeport, but off of the Nautical Mile at the "triangle" (where Church Street meets Sunrise Highway) at 6 p.m.
Created by a joint effort between the village, the Chamber of Commerce and the Nautical Mile Merchants Association, the parade is to be led by the Captain Lou Fleet (31 Woodcleft Ave.; 516-623-5823, captloufleet.com). This year, the Capt Lou VII and Starstream VIII ships will both be taking part, and both are open to people looking to ride along. Outside beverages are not permitted but passengers may bring their own food.
A table at the Woodcleft Esplanade will provide free hot chocolate for visitors. Children under the age of 12 will dine free (one child per adult who purchases a meal) between 5 and 7 p.m. at participating area restaurants such as Hibiscus at Elliot's on the Mile (23 Woodcleft Ave.), Halfway Down (153 Woodcleft Ave.) and Rachel's Waterside Grill (281 Woodcleft Ave.).
Those who prefer to watch the parade while exploring may find the scene suitable as Jackson notes, "although this year may be hampered a little from COVID, this is mainly outdoors … Many just stroll along the mile and get into the holiday spirit."
INFO Freeport’s Nautical Mile is located along Woodcleft Avenue between Front and Richmond Streets, next to the Woodcleft Canal; visit freeportchamberofcommerce.org for more information. Tickets to ride the Captain Lou Fleet boats for this event are $30 ($20 for ages 11 and younger), and must be purchased in advance at captloufleet.com. Face masks are required at all times unless sitting at a table to eat or drink.