What do you get when you combine Newport Beach with Christmas? You get one of the most spectacular events during the holiday season, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. This year the parade will be celebrating its 109th year of lighting up the harbor and will be mixing things up with a change of the route; so make certain to study the map so that you know exactly what time the parade will be passing by your viewing location.
Dates and Time-
This year the parade will be running from December 13th through the 17th. Each night starting at 6:30 pm at Lido Isle the parade will start and the first boat will finish back at Lido Isle approximately at 9:00 pm.
There are many different ways to view the spectacular event from the water or land you will have a blast. Follow this link to find out about getting aboard a charter boat whether it be a Duffy that you are driving around or getting toured around on a cruising boat. If saying on land to view the parade is more your style, click here to find restaurants that you can dine at while watching the parade and click here to find out about reserved seating options and here for free viewing at the Balboa Village. Though probably one of the best free viewing locations is Marina Park.
History of the Boat Parade–
The boat parade started back in 1907 during the summer time, named at the time the Tournament of Lights, by John Scarpa and Joseph Beek. Mr. Scarpa would take guests out on his gondola that was decorated with Japanese lanterns and the year following on the Fourth of July the official first lighted boat parade took place. The parade at the time consisted of one gondola and eight canoes, today there are about 100 taking part in the parade. Then in 1913 the parade changed names to be known as the Illuminated Water Parade and with this came judges and prizes and in 1915 the count of vessels partaking reached 40. The parade in 1915 was extra special in that there were two underwater mines that were exploded as well as a “rescue” of passengers and a “battle of fireworks” between two launch pads; it seems back in the early 1900’s people were a little more risky in their entertainment.
The following five years went without parades due to a severe depression hitting Newport Beach as well as World War I. But then Mr. Beek in 1919 came forward to help out to keep the boat parade running by allowing children to decorate floats in his garage. In 1946, employees of the city made a Christmas caroling barge that was towed around the harbor while people sang Christmas carols. But then in 1949 the boat parade was terminated due to the city council believing that the city was becoming too congested due to the parade. But soon after this the Beek family came to the rescue again and used one of their ferry boats to hold carolers and year after year more boats started to follow the ferry. Without the support of the Beek family, the boat parade would not be anywhere near what it is today.