Newport Harbor Loves Its Parade, So Come on Out!

Newport’s Christmas Boat Parade will get underway Dec. 14 as one of the top holiday light attractions as rated by Yahoo! Travel.


What a wonderful parade! Of course, I am referring to the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce (caveat is that I am a Commodore). Only three more nights for you to see the 103rd Annual Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade, rated No. 2 in the “Top 10 Destinations for Holiday Lights” by Yahoo! Travel.

The boats are spectacular, and the owners have gone the extra nautical mile to decorate their boats. It appeared this year that more registered boats are cruising between the lead and finish parade boats, and most boats had their parade entrance numbers displayed on the hulls. Remember, skippers, to place your number where it will be visible on the starboard hull midship for my spotters to see, so I can announce your boat as you cruise by the Fun Zone.

We have great weather for the parade and the more than 1 million people annually who enjoy this holiday delight. The slight chill in the air gives that wintertime atmosphere in Newport with the theme “Feelin’ Christmas-Sea in Newport Beach!”

Again, my announcing area is set-up nightly at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum, and this year with a 40-by-40-foot tent where the Carousel was located for years. The parade typically begins to pass me at 6:40 p.m., however many people come early to find a parking spot and for their family to stake out a spot to watch. Those arriving early are not bored, as there is a plethora of things to do while waiting, like visit the museum. The  touch tank is my favorite exhibit at the museum, along with the Transpac Trophy donated by the late Roy E. Disney, who I enjoyed chatting with about sailing.

However, I digress.

I welcome everyone to stop by and say hello. And for the boaters participating in the parade, have you sent in your boat’s profile sheet? If not, then please email me your profile with a brief explanation of your boat including make, model, year, colors, home port, length, beam, draft, anything unique, and, most importantly, include your parade number.

A huge hint for all boaters in the parade is to wave and cheer to all the people watching from the shoreline. The boats with dancing, waving, cheering and singing people onboard give a festive feel to the parade, and they get a great reaction from the crowd.

Tip of week is for those skippers on the water, whether in the parade or not, to help the on-the-water parade control volunteers in the vessels with the flashing yellow lights and parade control banners. Every year members of the Chamber’s Commodore’s Club, yacht clubs, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, and others volunteer to help keep the parade flowing smoothly throughout the harbor. This is no small feat to accomplish every night, and they need every skipper’s cooperation and patience.

Parade Control members will try to direct every boat displaying a parade number to stay in between the lead boat and the finish boat. All the unregistered boats will be directed to follow after the finish boat, which is a great spot if you will be pulling out of the parade before the finish. Parade Control is there to help, and you can hail them on channel 68 with your VHF marine radio.

Also, you will see Parade Control boats at the turning and rounding points in the route to help direct the boats where to go next. Lastly, every skipper needs to control his or her speed in the parade. Speeding boats zip by the spectators who want to admire the decorations and they create wakes that rock the idle boats and docks where people are standing. Be safe, be courteous, and have a wonderful time the remaining nights of the parade.

Additionally, I remind all boaters in the parade to please slow down when you cruise by my announcing area. For those of you from out of the area, I am located just past the auto ferry landing and Ferris wheel on the Balboa Peninsula, about 5-10 minutes from the parade start.

Lastly, I would like to give a personal thanks to all the volunteers and Chamber staff who make the parade happen year after year – and who have propelled it to the No. 2 holiday lights attraction in the nation. Watch out Rockefeller Center, as the boaters are throttling up to take the No. 1 spot.

Really lastly, I want to thank fellow Indy columnist Lynn Selich for mentioning me as the official “voice of the parade,” in her “Lynn’s Spin” column last week.

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, Craig Carpenter, 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!