November 22, 2013 in Features

Boat rides take ‘believers’ to Santa

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Passengers crowd to the bow of the boat to see Santa Claus during one of last year’s Holiday Light Cruises on Lake Coeur d’Alene. This year’s cruises start Friday and continue nightly – no cruises on Thanksgiving, though – through Jan. 1.
(Full-size photo)

What’s the quickest way to get from North Idaho to the North Pole?

A boat ride, if you’re leaving from the edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The Coeur d’Alene Resort’s “Journey to the North Pole” thrice-nightly Holiday Lights Cruises launch today.

“It’s really meant for the little kids,” said Susan Thomas, a media buyer at Blue541, the ad agency for Hagadone Corp., which owns the resort. “We call them the believers.”

Children’s names are collected as they board the boats, which cruise past the downtown resort’s holiday light show, more than 1.5 million bulbs strong. Workers at the resort, which bills the display as the largest “on-the-water holiday light display” in the U.S., install animated displays on the floating boardwalk and more lights on buildings and trees around the resort.

Cookies and hot chocolate are available to keep cruise passengers fueled up during their journey, and Christmas carols play from loudspeakers.

Upon the boat’s arrival at Santa’s North Pole Toy Workshop, which doubles the rest of the year as a dock on Casco Bay, the big man reads aloud the names of the kids aboard.

Thomas said she took her children on the cruises and now takes her grandchildren.

When young passengers hear their names called by Santa, she said, “you can just see their eyes light up. It’s all about the magic that happens for the kids.”

Adrian Rogers

When: Starting today, the 40-minute cruises run at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. nightly, except for Thanksgiving. They’ll continue through Jan. 1.

Where: Get on the boat at the boardwalk marina at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, 115 S. Second St.

Tickets: Reservations are required. Go to or (208) 664-7268.

Cost: Adults, $19.75; seniors 55 and older, $18.75; children 6 to 12, $5; children 5 and younger, free. Diners at Hagadone Corp. restaurants – Beverly’s, Cedar’s Floating Restaurant, Tito’s Italian Grill, Dockside, Bonsai Bistro, Beachouse or Mulligan’s – receive discount coupons.

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