Sep 13, 2013
07:47 AM
Arts & Entertainment

Magical Riverlights Boat Parade Saturday in Milford-Stratford Helps Fight Cancer

Magical Riverlights Boat Parade Saturday in Milford-Stratford Helps Fight Cancer

A magical glowing image from last year's Riverlights Boat Parade.

“In a few minutes we swept gracefully out into the Grand Canal, and under the mellow moonlight the Venice of poetry and romance stood revealed. Right from the water's edge rose long lines of stately palaces of marble; gondolas were gliding swiftly hither and thither and disappearing suddenly through unsuspected gates and alleys; ponderous stone bridges threw their shadows athwart the glittering waves. There was life and motion everywhere, and yet everywhere there was a hush, a stealthy sort of stillness, that was suggestive of secret enterprises of bravoes and of lovers; and clad half in moonbeams and half in mysterious shadows, the grim old mansions of the Republic seemed to have an expression about them of having an eye out for just such enterprises as these at that same moment. Music came floating over the waters—Venice was complete.”

That passage about riding in a gondola at night in 19th-century Venice is from Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad from 1869. Just such a “magical parade on the water”—but in reverse—is taking place tonight on the Housatonic River in the Milford-Stratford area, to raise money for cancer education, screening, and prevention programs for the community.

While Twain experienced seeing the Queen of the Adriatic aglow from the close confines of a dark gondola, those who connect with The Sixth Annual Riverlights Boat Parade Saturday night will experience boats lighting up the night on the river, glowing with the hope that the battle against cancer is ever closer to more and larger victories.

The parade will feature 18 boats this year, and will stretch from 7 p.m. to approximately 8:30 or 9 p.m. “This spectacular parade will start at the I-95 Moses-Wheeler Bridge and proceed down river to the Knapps Landing Restaurant in Stratford. Best viewing locations will be the various shoreline restaurants and public river access areas in Stratford. Margarita Grill, Harborside Restaurant, Outriggers Restaurant and Knapps Landing are official riverside viewing areas,” said a release from the St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation. The net proceeds, raised in various ways by the boat parade, will be donated to St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound cancer programs, as well as provide financial aid and assistance to cancer patients, survivors and their families. 

Since the inaugural event in 2008, the Riverlights parade has raised over $30,000 for the SWIM, St. Vincent’s said.

The parade is organized by the Valley Yacht Club of Milford, with the help and participation from members of the Harbor Valley Yacht Club, Caswell Cove Marina, Brewer Marina (Stratford), and Pootatuck Yacht Club. And it’s not only fun for those watching, but the boats and boaters get judged in varying categories and awards are accorded.

Afterward, many of the boaters go to the Valley Yacht Club to share stories and wait for the judging outcomes.

As for how The Sixth Annual Riverlights Boat Parade aids St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound, funds are raised in several different ways. The parade committee sells approximately 25 sponsorships of $200 each to local restaurants and businesses, and participating boaters pay a $25 fee.

Additionally, roughly 13 dozen event T-shirts are sold, at $10 each, and people often give more when buying a shirt.

Spectators enjoying the boat parade can donate directly to St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound by texting “Riverlights” to 71777, or by going online to www.SwimAcrossTheSound.org/Riverlights2013

And in one of the most fun and community-involved examples of cancer philanthropy, Lorrie Pappadick, who has a business selling clams, collects money throughout the year from her customers in a donation bucket which she then turns over as part of the parade, St. Vincent’s said. She donates approximately $3,000.

St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound is a charitable not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization run by the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation of Bridgeport. Since 1987, the SWIM has had a unique niche helping individuals and families struggling through the difficult changes that cancer it brings with it.

The SWIM serves approximately 30,000 people annually by providing over 45 programs, including cancer education, screening, prevention and support programs at low- or no-cost for the uninsured and underinsured. In addition, the SWIM helps individual cancer patients on a case-by-case basis with specific financial assistance, funding of wigs and prostheses, medication assistance, free transportation to treatments and appointments, day-care scholarships, support groups and more.  For more information, contact the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation at (203) 576-5451 or visit www.SwimAcrossTheSound.org.

If you want to try to squeeze in two lighted boat parades on the shoreline this weekend, connect with the Connecticut Schooner Festival, which runs all weekend in New London and launches there tonight with an after-dark parade.

If you're looking for other dining choices in the area this weekend or beyond, see our Best of Connecticut 2013, or download it as an iPad app. Also make sure to vote in our Readers' Choice: Best Restaurants 2014 survey, which is live online now.

 

Magical Riverlights Boat Parade Saturday in Milford-Stratford Helps Fight Cancer

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