Rhonda Hardee is passionate about boating and she’s passionate about the Oak Tree Farm, so she was willing to step up and lead America’s Boating Club’s second Christmas Boat Parade.

The first regatta was hindered by “horrible” weather this past year, and Hardee thinks some people confused it with the Murrells Inlet and Little River regattas, so the group has renamed Conway’s parade the Rivertown Regatta.

“It was freezing cold and it was raining,” Hardee said of this past year’s parade, adding that she’s already talked with Ed Piotrowki about delivering a nicer night this year.

So far, plans for this year are moving along swimmingly, according to Hardee, who says she’s already got 16 boats signed up and has had 15,000 hits on Facebook with 800 likes.

The regatta will start at 5 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the Savannah Bluff landing. It will pass the Conway Marina, turn around at the Railroad Trestle and come back to the marina where it will end.

People who bring cruiser boats from Myrtle Beach will be allowed to leave their boats at the marina overnight on a first-come, first-serve basis as long as there’s room.

Hardee already has lots of supporters helping her with the regatta.

Joey’s Riverwalk Grill will donate a portion of every check that evening, before and after the regatta, to the Oak Tree Farm, the beneficiary of the regatta.

Boats in the regatta can be any size and owners are encouraged to use their creativity to decorate them

There will be trophies for best theme, best decorations and most festive, and this year spectators will be allowed to participate by voting for their favorite boat, using a URL printed on signs near the riverwalk.

Organizers are also distributing fliers with a QR code that people can scan to donate money to the Oak Tree Farm, a residential community for adults with autism and others who are intellectually delayed.

The first house of the Farm complex, located on Cultra Road, is set to get its first resident in December.

“Of course, the more boats, the better the parade, so we want all the boats we can get,” Hardee said.

Boaters can sign up until Dec. 5.

Hardee says the boating club is getting support from lots of sources.

In addition to Joey’s Riverwalk Grill, Sunshine Printing is donating printing for the signs at the riverwalk, Coastal Billboard is donating a billboard that will be located near Lake Busbee.

Of course, boaters must have all of the safety equipment required by the Coast Guard.

“We’ve got a lot of boats. We’ve got a lot of people who’re saying they’re coming,” she said.

So, her advice is bundle up, bring some hot chocolate and enjoy watching the heavily decorated and brightly lit boats.

People who want to participate in this year’s Rivertown Regatta can register at tinyurl.com/abcregatta.

America’s Boating Club is a group of boating aficionados who offer free vessel safety checks and basic boating education. They enjoy boating activities with their fellow members and volunteer for community service that includes cleaning landings and organizing this regatta.

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I'm the editor of the Horry Independent, a weekly newspaper in Conway, South Carolina. I cover city hall and courts, among many other subjects. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7241.

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