A Fleet of Holiday Boat Parades

By Michael Berick

Los Angeles Events - Marina del Rey Boat Parade

Santa swaps his sleigh for a ship in Marina Del Rey. PHOTO COURTESY MARINA DEL REY BOAT PARADE

Seasonal celebrations take to the seas this month as holiday boat parades set sail up and down the Southern California coast, from Ventura to Dana Point. We’ll chart a course, north to south, to help you navigate these great Los Angeles events.

Let’s start up north at Ventura Harbor Village (1583 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura; www.venturaharbor.com). Ventura’s festively ornamented ships will launch the 39th annual Holiday Parade of Lights and Fireworks at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19. “Surf, Sand & Santa” is the theme for this year’s event, which also features carnival rides and a visit from old St. Nick himself.

Heading south, you can experience “Adventures of the Sea” at Marina Del Rey’s Boat Parade (www.mdrboatparade.org) Dec. 12. This holiday event, now in its 52nd year, starts with fireworks at 5:55 p.m., followed by the parade, where Florence Henderson will serve as grand marshal. Among the best places to view the colorful procession are Fisherman’s Village (13755 Fiji Way) and Burton Chace Park (13650 Mindanao Way), where you can listen to live parade commentary.

During the 53rd annual Port of Los Angeles Holiday Afloat Parade (www.laharborholidayafloat.org), all types of boats – from powerboats to tall ships – will travel the Port’s main channel, beginning in Wilmington and ending at the Cabrillo Marinas. It should be a fun year for boat decorations, since “Santa’s Minions” is the parade’s theme.

The South Bay also offers a pair of harbor parades. You can celebrate “Tropical Holidays” at Redondo Beach’s Holiday Boat Parade (www.khyc.org) Dec. 12, where fitness icon and South Bay resident Denise Austin is this year’s grand marshal. Paddleboards will start off the parade at 4:30 p.m., followed by the boats at 5:45 p.m. Suggested viewing spots include the King Harbor Marina (208 Yacht Club Way), Moonstone Park (280 Marina Way), Seaside Lagoon Sea Wall (200 Portofino Way) and Redondo Beach Marina Parking Lot (180 N. Harbor Dr.).

Dec. 12 also is the day for Naples Island’s 69th Annual Boat Parade (www.naplesca.com) in Long Beach. This event includes one parade for large boats, beginning at 6 p.m., and another for smaller boats at 6:45 p.m. Because of limited parking on Naples Island, parade-goers are advised to park at Alamitos Bay Marina (2nd Street and Marina Drive), Mothers Beach (Revenna and Appian Way) or the beach parking at Bayshore and Ocean boulevards.

Farther south, in Orange County, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade (www.christmasboatparade.com) runs Dec. 16-20 and is marking its 107th anniversary. Each night, from 6:30-9 p.m., the parade boats (and kayaks, canoes and other floating vessels) will chart a course around Balboa Peninsula’s inner harbor. Spectators can watch the parade from all around the Newport Harbor. A grand finale fireworks show will close the parade on Dec. 20.

Dana Point’s 41st annual Boat Parade of Lights (www.danapointharbor.com) will present “A Galactic Holiday” themed-celebration over the course of two weekends, Dec. 11-12 and 18-19. Check out the amusingly decked-out boats and see if you can pick which ones the judges will select for the various awards. There are spots all around Dana Point Harbor (34555 Golden Lantern St.) where you can view the passing parade, which starts at 7:30 p.m. each night.

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