by Des Ryan
Parade of Lights, photo by Clifford Lester
People who mess about in boats, like normal people, like to celebrate. At this time of year the excuse is the arrival of the festive season – traditional Christmas and the heralding of the New Year.
But nowhere in the world do they do it more spectacularly or expensively than in California with their annual Light Parades, where local boat owners decorate their boats with lights and then participate in an evening parade.
In Newport Beach, The Newport Beach Boat Parade started nearly 100 years ago when a Venetian gondolier put lights on his gondola. Today, more than 100 boats participate, and many spend over $50,000 per boat.
sd sailing boat CASQUEVANA
In San Diego, it's the 36th year in a row that they've held the Parade of Lights, and this year 80,000 people will collect along the downtown waterfront to watch the spectacle, which also boasts in excess of 100 boats every year.
It starts with a fireworks extravaganza at 5.30pm and the Parade, occurring on two Sundays in December (this year 9th and 16th) occurs immediately afterwards. It is themed every year, this year being 'Yo Ho Ho... A Pirate's Christmas'
They are free-to-the-public, very distinctly Californian celebrations, which attract visitors of all ages from across America. There are prizes of course, and boats are judged on originality and the creative use of decorations depicting the parade theme.