Shortly after daybreak on Friday, we lift anchor in Lake Sylvia and retrace our steps to the Las Olas Boulevard Bridge where Cutter Loose is now secured to a City mooring. Lake Sylvia is very secure, but the closest dinghy dock is miles away. Friends Stephani and Robin have arranged our own private dinghy dock at the home of a friend. The property is located on a residential canal just minutes from our mooring via dinghy.
After lunch at Georgio’s, Stefani and Robin orient us to the network of streets and highways in Fort Lauderdale between Las Olas Boulevard on the north, the beach to the east, 17th Street on the south and Route 1 on the west. They have offered us the use of their car during our stay here in Fort Lauderdale. We are overwhelmed with their generosity…our very own private dinghy dock, AND a car, AND the company of friends! It doesn’t get much better than this!
Meanwhile, back on the home front, neighbors Jim and Marnie discover an important Fed Ex package at our front door. It contains our long-awaited decal and transponder from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that permits us to re-enter the U.S. from the Bahamas. Marnie wastes no time forwarding the package to us via overnight mail. Meanwhile, our Island Packet friends Chuck and Jeanne in Pittsburgh have agreed to act as recipients of our fowarded mail from the postal service. They keep us advised when important documents arrive in the mail. We are blessed with friends at home in Pittsburgh and here in Fort Lauderdale that provide behind the scenes support for our voyage.
After our orientation tour of Fort Lauderdale, we join Joyce and Brian poolside at the Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club for Friday afternoon appetizers. At sunset, the cannon blast announces the retirement of the colors. Everyone stands and salutes while appreciating the backdrop of dusk on the New River.
As fortune would have it, we secure tickets to Friday night’s performance of a spectacular Christmas pageant at the First Baptist Church. Members of the cast are selected from the 12,000 members of this mega church. The performance and the sanctuary is more akin to a Broadway production than a church pageant. The evening begins with secular Christmas music, as performed by the church choir and a full orchestra complete with strings. Each song triggers a change in set and costumes. The second set begins with the Christmas story and ends with the Crucifixion and the Ascension.
The lighting, costumes and special effects are nothing short of first rate. The various sets include live camels, donkeys, goats and sheep, angels flying overhead suspended from a ceiling trapeze, an ice skating rink that rises up from the stage floor, glitter dropped from the ceilings and perfectly timed pyrotechnics for emphasis. The dance routines are perfectly choreographed. After the final scene, the entire cast makes its way in costume to the foyer and sidewalks to greet the guests leaving the sanctuary. We are both entertained and inspired by the talent and hard work of this congregation.