The Wilson Family

a family of 5 posing in front of their boat

Meet the Wilson family. They have been involved with the Christmas Boat Parade for decades. Gary and Kathy began the tradition, and now Dayne, Elizabeth, and their young son live on the boat and continue to work with Gary and Kathy to create stunning decorations every year.


What kind of boat do you have?

A 38’ Bayliner.

DSC_0102_1a christmas themed boat at night

How many years has your boat been in the Christmas Boat Parade?

The boat has been in the family for twenty-five years, and it’s been in the boat parade every single year. It started with Dayne’s father Gary, and we all still work together on it. We’ve lived on the boat full time at South Shore Harbour for four years with our son.

What’s it like living on a boat?

It’s amazing. You don’t have to mow your grass, and if you wanna go somewhere, you just go. It’s simple. No clutter. No junk. And the people that live on our dock are amazing. We have 2 full-size bedrooms, 2 full-size bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen. Just like what you’d find in an average apartment.

What do you like about the Christmas Boat Parade?

The tradition. You see the same families every year, plus our own family does it every year. We have aunts and uncles and cousins in the parade, and it’s become a friendly rivalry. We also love the camaraderie. Christmas has become so commercial, and the boat parade is more about the meaning of Christmas and the traditions.

When do you start decorating the boat?

When we tear down in January, we already know what we’re gonna do for the next year. We start decorating months in advance.

Biggest challenge in decorating a boat?

Laying it out in the correct order. Also, we had a big wind storm recently and things got knocked loose, so we had to go back and fix it.

How many strands of lights do you use?

We use a lot of net lights, probably around 40 sets of those and maybe 10-15 sets of string lights to fill in the gaps. Then we have the figures. We’ve used the dolphin figures every year for 20 years. Those were handmade by a cousin, and we wrap them in rope lights.

How do you power the lights on the boat?

We have an onboard generator, and the smaller boats use a small generator or power inverter.

Favorite memory of the boat parade?

In 2017, we won the Red Adair award for best overall boat. Our boat has won a lot of awards in the past, but that was the first time we’d ever won best overall. We created a huge blue wave on the bow of the boat with a surfing Santa, and played the Beach Boys for the whole parade.

Advice for first timers in the parade?

Don’t drink and drive. Be safe and have fun.

Why should people come out to the Christmas Boat Parade?

Tradition. It’s great for the kids to see. It’s been going on for so long, and it still has a huge turnout. People plan all year around for it. It doesn’t matter the weather, people will come watch and they’ll participate. We’ve done it in shorts, we’ve done it in parkas. They’ll brave the elements.

What should people expect at the Boat Parade?

You never know what to expect, it’s different every year. You have all different sized boats, from dinghies to yachts. The decorations range from beautiful and elegant to the Griswold’s. Every boat is different, and the time and creativity that goes into them just grabs your attention. You’re not bored, you’re glued from start to finish. The pictures do not do it justice. From the most extravagant to the most simple, they’re all beautiful.

Three words that describe League City?

Community, beautiful, family.

Favorite park in League City?

League Park.