Hundreds of families started celebrating Christmas early at the annual Holiday Cheer at the Pier at Ross's Landing Friday night. 

Music, food trucks, train rides, and a view of the Tennessee River kept the crowd busy until the popular lighted boat parade.

Erwin Marine Riverfront, a large event partner, led the lit up the 20-boat fleet with two of its boats and says it is an experience like no other.

"Not very often do you get to see a lighted boat parade. I mean it's kind of a unique situation. With the riverfront being as convenient as it is to be able to view these lights, everybody's always looking for an excuse to get their boat out and use it," said Brian Long, dockmaster at Erwin Marine Riverfront

For 45 minutes, people got to experience a magical sight as the boats made laps.

The Southern Belle Riverboat is the centerpiece of the holiday celebration and has played a part in the celebration's big finale, the firework show on the river.

The riverboat has paid for the fireworks for more than four years and helped with the boat parade since Holiday Cheer at the Pier first began.

General Manager Jon Reinert says the riverboat had the city's back when it lost sponsorships for this event some years ago and the 15,000 for the fireworks is still the least they can do.

"You know it's just a way for us to say thank you to the City of Chattanooga um you know for helping us out all year long. We got great partners, Erwin Marine bring all the boats down and obviously we're the Southern Belle Roat so we got to be a part of the light parade," Reinert said.

Santa Claus arrived in a fire truck as people stood in line to take pictures in front of the landing's tall lit-up Christmas tree.