OCEAN CITY — Fewer boaters will be taking to the water this weekend for the city’s annual Night in Venice boat parade. But revelers on land seem just as excited about the city’s annual party as ever. More than 200 entries will compete in the contest for best-decorated house.

The city is expecting about 50 boats to participate this year, down from the 80 that took part last year, city spokesman Mark Soifer said.

“From what I understand in talking to marinas, quite a few people haven’t put their boats in the water this year to save money,” Soifer said.

This year’s parade will feature a slightly later start time from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Soifer said this was to allow for the incoming tide to raise the water levels in the lagoons for some of the bigger boats in the parade.

The later start time will give a decided advantage to boats that decorate with light packages.

Parade organizers are offering $50 gift cards to participating boats along with commemorative mugs and photos. This year’s parade theme is Broadway on the Bay.

The city’s Night in Venice parade has taken place each year since 1954. Numerous charities and events, including Miss Night in Venice, are tied to the parade and its weekend celebration, which includes the annual Merchants in Venice Seafood Festival. About 250 crafters will take part in the seafood festival, he said.

This year’s parade grand marshal is Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere, who played in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Laperriere was injured in the playoffs in 2010 when he took a puck to the face and suffered a concussion and a fractured orbital bone. He missed the 2010-11 season because of the injury.

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If you go

The parade begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday starting at the Ocean City-Longport Bridge and winding south through the lagoons to Tennessee Avenue. Public viewing is available for free at street ends or at the Bayside Center with admission of $7 for adults and $5 for children obtained at the City Hall Annex.

Parking is available at Tennessee Avenue with a free shuttle providing transportation to and from viewing areas or party destinations along the parade route starting at 5 p.m. to midnight. The shuttle also will stop at parking lots at the Municipal Airport and the Community Center.

The Route 52 causeway typically closes for about 30 minutes to let parade boats pass under the drawbridge starting at about 8 p.m.

When you're there

Go to OCNIV.com for video, social media updates and reports on Saturday’s boat parade.