Newport Beach’s annual holiday “postcard to the world,” the Christmas Boat Parade, kicked off its five-day voyage on Wednesday, Dec. 19 with a fireworks display from the Newport Pier followed by a parade of elaborately decorated yachts, sailboats and small electric boats that circumnavigated Newport Harbor for several hours.
Tens of thousands of people lined the shores or watched from local restaurants as the boats made their way around the harbor. More than half a million people are expected to come to Newport Beach to view the Christmas Boat Parade by the time it concludes its run on Sunday, Dec. 23.
Hundreds of people gathered at Marina Park for the official opening night festivities, which included family-friendly activities and food vendors, as well as a performance by the Young Americans. The parade passes by Marina Park, making it a prime viewing spot.
A special VIP reception was also held at Marina Park to welcome and honor the Boat Parade Grand Marshal, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols.
Gary Sherwin, President and CEO of Newport Beach & Company, welcomed the invited guests and noted that the boat parade will be seen by millions of people around the country, “whether they see it in person, or on TV or through newspapers and magazines.”
Sherwin introduced Boat Parade Co-chair David Beek (his family has a long history in Newport Beach and helped launch the boat parade a century ago), Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Rosansky, Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon, and Albert Pujols.
Sherwin stated that Pujols’s “commitment to the people and communities in need epitomizes the spirit of the season and makes him a fitting grand marshal of the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. He is also one of only 32 players to earn 3,000 hits and 600 home runs.”
“It’s an honor to be here on behalf of the Chamber,” said Rosansky. “Since its humble beginnings, the parade has been by and for the community. Each year, members of the Chamber and volunteers spend thousands of hours coordinating every aspect of the parade.”
Rosansky thanked the boat owners and home owners who decorate their boats and homes every year, helping to make this “one of the premier Christmas holiday experiences in the country. We call this our postcard to the world.”
Rosansky also acknowledged some of the guests in attendance, including Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill, councilmembers Jeff Herdman and Kevin Muldoon, former Mayor Rush Hill, former City Manager Homer Bludau, Police Chief Jon Lewis, and Newport Beach Film Festival President and CEO Gregg Schwenk.
“This is such a proud tradition for the City of Newport Beach, and for the Beek Family,” said David Beek, whose family in the early days of the parade put Christmas trees on their ferry and cruised around the harbor. “Any parade that makes it to its 110th anniversary is surely a magnificent success, and sure to be enjoyed by millions of people for years to come. Every year the parade gets a little bit bigger and better. Most recently with the popularity of computer programs and LED technology, the parade has taken on a new magnificent and wonderful look. I spent my whole life enjoying this wonderful harbor, and it does not feel like Christmas until the Christmas Boat Parade returns to circle our shores. On behalf of the Beek family, we invite you to enjoy this year’s parade.”
“This parade is home grown and unique to Newport Beach—nothing like this exists in the world,” said Mayor Dixon. “It is made by the people, filled with holiday cheer and innovation. It brings over $4 million of economic activity to our city.”
For her first proclamation as the new Mayor of Newport Beach, Mayor Dixon called Pujols to the stage so she could “read your life story in this proclamation.”
“You re a celebrated sports figure and an advocate for those with special needs,” read Dixon. “You are an Orange County resident, a two-time world series champion, three-time MVP, nine-time all-star, and the most recent member of the 3,000 hit club.”
Dixon paused, then exclaimed “I have never met anybody that has done so well in baseball! And he’s here in Newport Beach! Thank you for sharing who you are.”
“I am really flattered to be here, really honored to be celebrating this amazing parade that has been around for 110 years,” said Pujols. “I am here celebrating with my family. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and God bless you all.”
In addition to the proclamation, Rosansky presented Pujols with a framed copy of the official Christmas Boat Parade burgee (a triangle flag), which is given to all boat owners who participate in the parade.
The Christmas Boat Parade runs nightly in Newport Harbor through December 23.
Grand Marshals for the remaining nights:
Friday, Dec. 21 – The Young Americans: The Young Americans, founded in 1962, is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of understanding and goodwill among people throughout the world. Known as “America’s Musical Ambassadors,” they use the power of music, dance, performance, academics, and cultural interaction to foster their mission.
Saturday, Dec. 22 – A Celebration of Christmas Movies and Music with Olive Crest: Children and families of Olive Crest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and treating and educating at-risk children, enjoy the holiday sentiments of family fun, bringing the spirit of Christmas to life.
Sunday, Dec. 23 – Corona del Mar High School Drum Line: The CdM Drum Line is one of the premiere performing groups at Corona del Mar High School. It serves as a musical ambassador, performing regularly in pep rallies as well as school and community events.
Visit ChristmasBoatParade.com for the parade route and viewing information.