Cerabino: Keeping Trump’s military parade plans from going adrift

7:05 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018 Local
Illustration by Mark Buzek / The Palm Beach Post

We might have to start re-imagining our holiday boat parades.

I’ll explain. Soon after President Donald Trump reportedly dispatched the Pentagon to plan for a military march down Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation’s capital, some members of Congress sought to thwart him by legislation.

The bill, called The PARADE Act — Prohibit Allocation of Resources for Absurd Defense Expenditures — is designed to stop Trump’s parade plans before they materialize.

“President Trump’s proposal of a military parade reflects a testosterone-driven need for self-aggrandizement,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) in a prepared statement.

Then Cohen offered Trump a less-costly alternative to consider:

“The Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade of yachts in the Intracoastal Waterway off Mar-a-Lago should be sufficient,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s suggestion of using the annual holiday boat parades here in Palm Beach County as a way to check the box for Trump’s parade dreams will require us to make some significant changes in the way we conduct this annual event.

First step, we’ll need a route on the Intracoastal Waterway that brings the boats past the back yard of Mar-a-Lago. The way the routes are set up right now, Boynton Beach’s boat parade only goes as far north as the Lantana bridge. And the Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade doesn’t go south of North Palm Beach.

So the route of the Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade will need to extend to the Southern Boulevard bridge.

Oh, and we’ll have to nix the word “holiday.” It would now become the Palm Beach Merry Christmas Jews and Muslims U.S.A. Military Boat Parade.

I know what you’re thinking: Can we really fit a flotilla of warships into the Intracoastal, and if so, will sailors be imperiled by the flying fishing hooks from our local bridge fishermen?

Clearly, some changes will have to be made.

It would take an extensive dredging project to make the Intracoastal deep enough to accommodate military warships. And it’s likely that The PARADE Act would prevent that kind of money being spent, as well as the deployment of actual military vessels and personnel for the parade.

So we’ll have to improvise.

The good news is that it will be dark outside. If you’ve been to a boat parade, you know that you can’t see things very clearly. The boats look like passing shadows framed by colorful lights. The details are lost. This will help.

Also, by that time of night on a Saturday, President Trump will be groggy from chocolate cake and a hard day of tweeting and playing golf.

As he sits there on his parade throne near the seawall of Mar-a-Lago with the a John Philip Sousa march blasting on the public address system, who’s to say whether that passing shape in the distance is a Chris-Craft Catalina 34 or an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer?

To make things more passable, the participants in the boat parade will have to agree to paint the hulls of their boats battleship gray. And the people onboard should be instructed to salute rather than wave to the people ashore.

If Trump requires a land component to his boat parade, we can offer the military option of a march down Military Trail. And I’m guessing by next December we can stage a very impressive parade.

The trick will be to persuade all those protesters to march in straight lines.