Gibraltar's canal Santa spreads Christmas cheer by water
In 2015 Gibraltar Resident Mark Jeannette decided to use the downriver town's multiple canals to help spread Christmas cheer. He decorated his boat as Santa's sleigh, complete with reindeer, donned a Santa suit and cruised the canals.
Few people were out that year he said, but after starting a Facebook page in 2017, he's become an instant Gibraltar tradition, known as the canal Santa. The annual mission wasn't without hiccups. He faced engine trouble and was helped this year by TowBoatU.S.-Detroit, based in Gibraltar.
Jeannette carries on the memory of his father, who loved Christmas and handmade most of his decorations.
"This was always something I thought we could do and I just decided one afternoon to get some wood and start cutting this thing out. We went for a ride and had a blast and it has not stopped," Jeannette said.
The boat is decked out with four sets of tube lights, seven reindeer with Rudolph and his red nose leading the crew at the bow. Sparkle lights down the runner and back of the boat appear as if sparks flying off the sleigh.
"There's got to be over 200 zip ties holding it together," he said.
Jeannette's ride through the "Venice of Michigan" should take over an hour and it's worth the smiles of children, he said.
"This is a great city with unique people here, with kind hearts, great friends, it's a small community," he said. "We had people yelling what they want for Christmas and 'Come pick up my list'... It's been a lot of fun."