Pick the Theme for the 2021 Christmas Boat Parade

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Perennial Boat Parade winner the Last Hurrah / Photo by Chris Trela

We just finished celebrating Easter, but the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce already has Christmas on its mind—specifically the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.

The Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce has announced the dates of the official 113th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade (last year’s “official” parade was cancelled but an unofficial Christmas Boat Parade did set sail).

This year’s Christmas Boat Parade – often called Newport’s “Christmas Card to the World” – will be held Dec. 15-19. As in past years, the parade will have a theme. Parade organizers are inviting the community to join in on the festivities and submit a theme for this year’s parade.

“Planning for this year’s Christmas Boat Parade has already started and we are thrilled to bring the community into the excitement of parade planning activity with an opportunity to name the boat parade theme,” said David Beek, Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Committee Co-Chair and a member of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Commodores Club.

“On behalf of the entire committee, we are all looking forward to collaborating with our residents and reviewing submissions,” added Larry Smith, Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Committee Co-Chair and a fellow member of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Commodores Club.

Millions watched the 108th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade in Newport Harbor between Dec. 14-18, which included a boat from Grand Marshal Mickey Mouse’s team called the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade boat.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©

“After this past year, we are ready for good news, and as optimism in reopening grows, the light at the end of the tunnel is that much brighter today as we announce the dates of this year’s Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and the return of celebrating together again,” says Steve Rosansky, president and CEO of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.

To submit a theme for the 2021 Christmas Boat Parade, go to www.ChristmasBoatParade.com, click on the “Submit a Theme for This Year’s Parade” button, and submit up to three Theme Ideas.

Submissions are open until June 1. The Boat Parade Committee will then select the top five themes. The community will then be encouraged to visit ChristmastBoatParade.com and vote for their favorite theme. The winning theme will be announced soon after.

For those unfamiliar with the Christmas Boat Parade, more than 100 elaborately decorated yachts, sailboats and small electric boats circumnavigate Newport Harbor for several hours. Tens of thousands of people line the shores or watch from local restaurants as the boats make their way around the harbor.

One of the more than 90 decorated vessels in the 2014 Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.
— Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©

The Christmas Boat Parade is the longest-running, lighted holiday boat parade in the nation and the largest harbor parade in California. carolers. Some boat owners spend more than $50,000 to decorate their vessels for the event, and many add music and costumed carolers.

The price tags for decorating the boats is much more than Italian gondolier John Scarpa spent in 1907 when he took a group of visitors across Newport Bay in a gondola decorated with Japanese lanterns. A year later, on July 4, 1908, Scarpa and other small boat operators put together a loosely organized parade of nine illuminated vessels led by Scarpa’s gondola and followed by eight canoes.

It might not have been Christmastime, but the Boat Parade was officially born.

The parade – then called the Illuminated Water Parade – was held again in 1913, and for several years thereafter until the outbreak of WWI, when the parade went dark. In 1919 it was revived by Joseph Beek, who operated the Balboa Island ferry service. Floats that could be towed around the harbor were constructed in Beek’s garage; some were patterned after those seen in the Rose Parade.

The boat parade continued until shortly after World War II, when the parade became so popular that traffic along the parade route became too congested.

The parade shifted to December and was rechristened the Christmas Boat Parade. Traffic is still congested, but not quite as bad as during the summer.

For more information about the Christmas Boat Parade, visit www.ChristmasBoatParade.com.

Firefighters Boat – by Charles Weinberg
Christmas Boat Parade – photo by Chris Trela
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