Cleveland’s iconic Holiday party boat is back in the water

The Holiday has been a fixture in Cleveland for decades. The 65-foot party boat has hosted weddings, escorted scuba divers to shipwrecks and ferried anglers to fishing hotspots across Lake Erie.

And now she’s back in the water, after eight months of U.S. Coast Guard inspections, work on the dry dock and fresh paint.

“It’s kind of like cutting off your right arm when you lose your boat for a period of time,” said Capt. Bill Bratton, who piloted the boat back home from the Spitzer Riverside Marina in Lorain.

Bratton is 58, exactly the same age as the Holiday. His dad, Capt. Wayne Bratton, bought her in 1982 and started his own charter-boat company, Trident Marine Corp. Bratton was one of two boat captains who helped minimize damage during the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire.

The Holiday is one of a kind in Cleveland, the only boat to hold a few dozen people for a private party. The Goodtime III and Nautica Queen are bigger, the Elcee 2 water taxi much smaller. So the Holiday is the boat that toured bird watchers around Lake Erie and took revelers through the Flats. It’s celebrated weddings, anniversaries and retirement parties.

Capt. Bill Bratton drives the Holiday home. (Donna Lesilie)

“She’s a party boat. She’s a good boat, a solid boat,” said Donna Leslie, who handles charters for Trident.

The boat seats 65 passengers, plus crew. It has a liquor license and a galley, and the crew can work with a caterer, or you can bring your own food.

This month, the Holiday will take a group of mayor out to the Cleveland crib. They’ll continue the tradition of picking up Browns fans from a parking lot along the Cuyahoga River and delivering them to First Energy Stadium in time for kickoff, then return them when the game is over. You can take a tour of the river, with Bratton narrating the history.

Bratton just likes to drive.

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