There are several rock band frontliners whose legacies will span for decades to come, and there’s one name guaranteed to ring a bell for most people: Bret Michaels, the lead singer of Poison.
His success over the decades is undeniable: From selling more than 45 million records worldwide with his band, to taking over reality TV (“Rock of Love,” anyone?), to philanthropic work with his charity, the Life Rocks Foundation, it seems there are few things Michaels hasn’t been involved in.
But there’s one exciting venture the rockstar has yet to take on, at least until his highly anticipated debut on Saturday, Dec. 14: being the grand marshal of Fort Lauderdale’s 48th annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade.
More than 1 million viewers are expected to watch the annual holiday spectacle in-person, with the route spanning 12 miles full of boats decked out in festive lights and decor. Starting at New River and traveling east to the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale, the parade will then head north to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. Past grand marshals have included Huey Lewis, Pitbull, Kim Kardashian, Tori Spelling, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal, just to name a few.
This isn’t the first time Michaels has been involved with Winterfest; he was in talks to be the grand marshal last year, but the timing didn’t coincide with his schedule. Now the stars have aligned, and he isn’t taking it for granted.
As the host of South Florida’s iconic holiday event, Michaels considers interacting with attendees and “treating everyone great” as the most important part of the job. Another key aspect? Making sure everyone has—dare it be said—“Nothin’ But A Good Time.”
“I am beyond excited to be the grand marshal, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while,” Michaels said. “I am genuinely honored to be there, excited to be there, and most importantly, I want to be there.”
Having considered Florida a second home for most of his life, Michaels is especially honored for his role as grand marshal. As a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, a good portion of his family vacations consisted of visiting various parts of the Sunshine State, whether it was taking a dip in South Florida’s notorious beaches or chasing theme park thrills in Orlando.
“I’ve made it very public how much I love the state of Florida,” Michaels said. “Now as an adult, I spend probably a lot of my off-the-road time in [Florida]…I love not just the people, but I love the [atmosphere].”
Currently on his “Unbroken World Tour,” Michaels will perform on Friday, Dec. 13 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. Expect Poison’s hottest hits that’ll take you straight back to the ‘80s, as well as his newest single written with his daughter, “Unbroken,” a guitar-heavy anthem about being stronger than your storm.
“It’s beyond the concert—it’s a party, it’s a lot of fun,” Michaels said. “And then the next night to be the grand marshal of the boat show; it’s going to be unbelievable.“
Alongside his desire to bring endless energy to Fort Lauderdale, Michaels is using his platform to keep awareness alive about the $3.4 billion worth of devastation Hurricane Dorian left in the Bahamas this past summer. He is working with local authorities in the island to deliver a plane of much-needed supplies and Christmas gifts after Winterfest at his own expense. As a lifelong diabetic, Michaels knows the disease must be consistently managed, and he strives to take as many medical supplies to the Bahama that he’s allowed to.
“They’re our neighbors, and they’ve been devastated,” Michaels said. “After the boat parade we’re going to head there. I want to make sure they have supplies, especially a lot of [Christmas] toys for their kids.”
Where To Watch
Looking for the best view of Fort Lauderdale’s most festive event? Here are some places to experience the magic of the Winterfest Boat Parade:
- The Grandstand Viewing Area — Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Fort Lauderdale
- Boathouse at Riverside — 620 SE Fourth St., Fort Lauderdale
- Shooters Waterfront — 3033 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale
- The Wharf Fort Lauderdale — 20 W. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
- Benihana — 4343 Tradewinds Ave., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
- Blue Moon Fish Company — 4405 W. Tradewinds Ave., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
- Mastro’s Ocean Club — 3000 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale
- Bokampers Sports Bar and Grill — 3115 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Photo courtesy of Bret Michaels
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