Ship Bottom — The Pittsburgh Steelers’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys in January 1979 at Super Bowl XIII solidified their title as the NFL team of the 1970s. In August of that year, New York Yankees captain Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash. The Atari video computing system was the most popular gift for Christmas, and on Long Beach Island, Ship Bottom held its first Christmas parade.
Now, 40 years later, the Steelers are one game below .500; the Atari VCS is a dinosaur in the world of gaming, and Ship Bottom is celebrating its 40th annual Christmas parade. The theme for this year’s parade is “40 years of Christmas Past.” That means participants can select from any of the known previous themes from past parades as the inspiration for their floats and costumes.
Twenty years ago, in 1999, the theme was “Christmas by the Sea”; a decade ago, in 2009, Ship Bottom celebrated with a “Holiday Surfing Safari” parade theme. A list of past themes, dating back only until 1991, can be found on the borough’s website by navigating to the Visitors tab on the home page and following the link to annual event list, December events.
The parade is scheduled for Dec. 7, a week later than normal due to a late Thanksgiving this year. It begins at 1 p.m. along Long Beach Boulevard from Fifth Street to 25th Street.
Looking to participate in the parade? To register online, go to shipbottom.srsd.net/registration or visit the borough’s website, shipbottom.org, for a direct link. There are no registration fees for participants or homemade floats, but to be eligible for judging for prizes, all participants must be registered by Friday, Nov. 29.
Sponsorship forms are available for anyone interested in helping to underwrite the annual Christmas tradition.
For those who are marching in the parade, buses will be available at the end of parade to transport them back to the Fifth Street area. Look for the LBI Shuttle buses; they will run from 1:30 p.m. until there is no one else to transport.
The parade runs along Long Beach Boulevard from Fifth to 25th Street with the judging stand at 16th Street and the Boulevard. Remember to dress in layers so you can add or take away clothing as determined by the weather. Wear comfortable shoes and bring chairs or blankets if you want to sit during the parade. Restrooms are located at borough hall and Grace Calvary Church, 17th Street and the Boulevard.
Remember to bring your letters for Santa Claus for a postal stamp cancellation. A trophy is given to the overall winner. Don’t wait until the parade to get in the Christmas spirit – remember the borough’s tree lighting, sponsored by the Ship Bottom Merchants Association, is at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, with a gathering in front of the anchor at borough hall for music, hot chocolate and doughnuts.