NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — It wouldn’t be the holidays without the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. The 107th annual event is billed as “Newport Beach’s Christmas Card to the World.” In addition, The New York Times called it “one of the top ten holiday happenings in the nation.”
It features more than 100 festive boats and this year’s theme is “Seas the Holidays.” For the first time, one or several grand marshals were a part of each night’s boat parade. It all began with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Owner Arte Moreno on Wednesday evening.
“I like the Santa boat the best,” said Sadie M., an attendee from Huntington Beach, Calif. “There’s a boat saying like, ‘ho, ho, ho.’ We’re going to for sure go on the ferris wheel because the view will look pretty from up there. We’ll probably get a pazookie.”
The champion U.S. Women’s Soccer Team were the grand marshals on Thursday night. Players Whitney Engen and Amy Rodriguez signed autographs and posed for photos with fans at ExplorOcean. They were later joined by teammate Christen Press on the yacht during the boat parade.
“To be here tonight is so special,” said Rodriguez. “Whit and I were honored to be invited to be a part of this. It’s such an amazing historical event that so many people get to experience. We’re just lucky that we’re being honored tonight. We’re excited to celebrate with all of the fans and all of the people of Newport Beach.”
Her teammate, Whitney Engen, added: “To sum up our year, it’s been exciting, non stop. Busy, but all in a good way. The opportunities that we’ve had just to be around people that are excited about our sport as they are. For me, it was really eye opening and really made me excited for the future of women’s soccer. We want to push that as far as we can.”
Then, the contestants From Season 8 of NBC’s “The Voice” were the grand marshals on Friday night. Meanwhile, the 2016 Tournament Of Roses Royal Court were the grand marshals on Saturday night. The boat parade wrapped up with fireworks on the first and final nights of the holiday spectacular.
“There was one that was very large and had white lights and trees on it,” said visitor Tom Vincent from Covina, Calif. about his favorite boat in the parade. “It’s very cool. We’re waiting to see it again. It almost blinds you when it goes by. We saw the soccer players on the jumbotron on their boat. For this year, today might be it.”
Some boat owners spend over $50,000 to decorate their vessels for the event. Two of the boats featured Charlie Brown, Snoopy and other characters from “The Peanuts Movie.” Another boat had lights to resemble the long-running children’s program “The Flintstones.” It also had flames shooting out of a dragon and a volcano.
“We’re enjoying Santa Claus,” said attendee Matt Ryland from Cypress, Calif. “We got here a little late because of traffic. That darn parking. We went to Chipotle and then walked here to sit down. We did go to a fire station for a little tour.”
The Christmas floats wound their way around a 14-mile course circling the harbor to give viewers in restaurants, yacht clubs, on public beaches, and in private homes an incredible sight that has delighted millions of people for a century.
“I like it, it’s very nice,” said visitor Deneatra White from Long Beach, Calif. “It’s something I can bring my grand kids to. My favorite boat is the one with all of the lights.”
The Christmas Boat Parade also featured a “Ring of Lights” contest. All of the nearby waterfront homes, businesses and yacht clubs are encouraged to put up holiday lights. Both the Boat Parade and the Ring of Lights competitions culminate at the annual Awards Dinner & Auction to be held on Friday, January 22 at the beautiful Island Hotel Newport Beach.
For more information about the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, visit www.christmasboatparade.com.