Fourth of July on the Water

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Happy Birthday America on this Fourth of July! This extended weekend will be very busy in Newport Harbor with thousands of boaters and visitors. Newport Harbor is known as the largest recreational harbor in the world with estimates I have seen as high as 12,000 boats, but I still think the number is just over 9,000 boats as I have cruised the harbor counting every boat – not.

Personally, I will be celebrating this July Fourth at either sea level or a mile up from sea level. I will have to choose from attending the annual events at American Legion Post 291 in Newport or Lake Arrowhead. Actually, I think the choice will be made by my family and a veto on my behalf could cause me to be sleeping in the proverbial doghouse.

Across the nation on this weekend, the waterways will be very busy as boaters have returned to untie their docklines and simply go boating. The combination of the improving economy, boaters’ pent up demand, and the holiday falling on an extended weekend, will make this one of the busiest boating days of the year. Boating organizations, harbor patrols, US Power Squadron, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the Coast Guard are asking boaters to boat safely and be courteous to fellow boaters on the water.

Annually, on the fourth in Newport Harbor, there are two traditions that attract thousands of boaters and shoreside spectators. First, we start with the American Legion’s Old Glory Boat Parade that cruises the harbor in the early afternoon, and then after the sunsets is popular Newport Dunes’ fireworks display.

I remember years ago when the Old Glory Boat Parade was named the Character Boat Parade and now it has evolved into a very worthwhile fundraiser that donates to the American Legion Boys State program, the American Legion Oratorical program, the Long Beach VA Vets Hospital and the VA Affairs office.

The lead boat will be the Newport Harbor Patrol fireboat from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the deputies will start the parade by shooting a huge stream of water out of the foredeck mounted fire monitor. The boats will be brightly decorated with red, white and blue as the theme colors, American flags flying, and stereos playing the Sousa Marches.

The parade starts off Collins Island and cruises the harbor with a route similar to the Christmas Boat Parade’s route. Boaters on the water and landlubbers shoreside can view the route at

Additionally, the American Legion Post is hosting a pancake breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. for only $10 per person. Then while the Full Spectrum Bands plays for the afternoon, the boat parade kicks off at 1 p.m. Boat owners can sign-up or get more information by calling the American Legion at 949-673-5070, stopping by at 215 15th St., or online at

However, on the other side of the harbor in the Back Bay, the Newport Dunes will be hosting their annual Fourth of July events with activities all day long from team horseshoe throwing contest to limbo (ouch) to a hula hoop contest. I find the volleyball games are always a great spectator sport, and not to mention eating the cakes after the cake walk. There will also be three tribute bands starting at 3 p.m. and ending when the fireworks light up the sky after dark. This is when all eyes switch to the Back Bay for the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort’s annual fireworks extravaganza at 9 p.m.

A reminder for boaters who are planning to cruise into the Back Bay to watch the show is to know the tides for clearance under the Coast Highway Bridge and the tidal action for the evening. Actually, my favorite spot to watch from a boat is in the large turning basin by the anchorage area.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July.

And don’t forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead’s Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network every Saturday at noon, Pacific Time and replayed on Sunday at 10 am Pacific.  Join Chandler Bell and me as we talk about “all things boating.”  You can find the station listings, cable TV channels, live streaming on the Internet, and now available are apps to listen to the show for your iPhone, Blackberry, iTouch, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile at or

Until next week, Safe Voyages!

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