I retain immeasurable respect for people who expend the effort to trim their homes with Christmas spirit.

For some, there might be a one-upper aspect to the endeavor (“Think your lights are so dang great, Bob? I’ll show you what a real man’s lights look like!”) Even still, I like to think they’re an altruistic gesture — a gift to passers-by. A bedazzled house is evidence of a homeowner’s true yuletide devotion.

And hanging Christmas lights isn’t easy. I once spent the entirety of a December day stringing lights along the front shrubs of my childhood home. My brother and I crafted a lit pattern of colored bulbs that dazed the senses. The design was so intricate, so heavenly, that it was a risk to passing motorists. The distraction could potentially have caused accidents.

We worked those lights until our fingers and faces were numb, only to have them go unapologetically dark just two days after they were hung (no thanks to the little devil across the street with the bad attitude and a pair of wire cutters).

But we’re in Maine, and with the water just over our shoulders it only makes sense that the holiday lights make their way to our floating fleet.

On Saturday, boats decked with strings of holiday cheer — and possibly a light-up Santa or two — will play follow the leader through Casco Bay during the 10th annual Portland Harbor Christmas Boat Parade of Lights.

The parade lures pleasure boats and commercial vessels out into the waters of Portland Harbor, where spectators can watch the brightly lit outlines of watercraft trail back and forth against the black backdrop of a winter night.

For an up-close view of the spectacle, Christmas enthusiasts can hop aboard a Casco Bay Lines ferry and watch the parade from a snowball’s throw away.

There’ll be plenty of warm inside seating, soda and free snacks. There’s also a cash bar serving beer and wine to help keep the chill off. It might also embolden passengers to step out onto the deck with the frigid wind, because no window should come between a true devotee and her Christmas bliss.

The sky might brighten with some holiday lights of its own during a parade fireworks display, assuming the same dedicated boater decides to launch some festive explosives again this year.

The boat departs at 4:30 p.m. from Maine State Pier, and the parade begins at 4:45 p.m. Tickets to ride may be reserved by calling Casco Bay Lines at 774-7871. Cost is $8 for adults and $4 for ages 5 to 12. Children under 5 ride for free.

Interested spectators who are prone to seasickness, or who believe standing outside in the cold is a sign of seasonal fortitude, can also watch from Maine State Pier or other coastal locations.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

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