Cape Coral’s Holiday Boat-A-Long is about to start, but it will see changes due to health concerns during the pandemic.

The land portion of the event is canceled, but the boats will still parade through the water. Toys for Tots hopes people can still help children smile through the Christmas event. Organizers told us the need is great because of the pandemic.

Boats adorned with lights have a long tradition of bringing the Christmas spirit to Cape Coral, a tradition that will continue on December 19.

“I think this year it’s going to be a huge success because everything else has been canceled,” said Heather O’Brien, owner of Sea Tow.

Families can still celebrate in small groups on their boats this holiday season.

“You’re on your own boat in your own space, which is why I think it’s good to continue,” said O’Brien.

Giving back to the community is part of the holiday tradition. Sea Tow hosts the Holiday Boat-A-Long each year and collects toy donations for Toys for Tots as part of the celebration.

Usually the Sea Tow office is already overflowing with toy donations, but this year more and more people are struggling due to the pandemic.

“This year we don’t see that many donations, and people really need them,” said O’Brien.

Patricia Kucik, North-Central Lee County Toys for tots president, says the need is greater than ever, with more than 20,000 children in need of toys and more and more requests every day.

“This will be our biggest year yet, and I really believe it’s a combination of people out of work,” Kucik said. “We have people texting and e-mailing us, ‘I’m embarrassed to do this. You know, I’ve never done this before.

Sea Tow is accepting new toy donations for toddler toys through the event, which begins at Four Freedoms Park in South Cape Coral.

“I can’t say enough how much we need your help even if you only have $ 5 even if you only have a dollar,” Kucik said. “No child should wake up on Christmas morning without a toy.”