Newport Beach is a world-renowned city for many good reasons, not the least of which are our breathtaking coastline, beaches and harbor, considered among the most beautiful in the world … especially during the holidays.
This time of year, Newport residents and business proprietors pull out the stops when it comes to decorating their homes, businesses and vessels large and small. I like to add a festive red bow to my car’s grill for an extra dose of merriment. My husband just shakes his head.
With Christmas décor coming out earlier and earlier every year, the sight of lights being hung en masse could be seen in neighborhoods throughout the city even before Thanksgiving. It’s amazing to witness the ingenuity that goes in to some, and especially entertaining to watch as boats are adorned, and the precarious positions needed to get the crowning star just right at the tip of a mast.
Next week, Newport will celebrate the 103rd Annual Christmas Boat Parade, Dec. 14 through 18, cleverly themed “Feelin’ Christmas-sea,” presented by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce. Last year, between the soggy weather and equally soggy economy, it felt a little like the Grinch had come to town. But in typical Newport style, every year, rain or shine, the boat parade always brings joy to its spectators, drawing crowds from all over the county and, as I just came to find out, the world.
While perusing colorful holiday vacation ideas online last week, what to my wondering eyes should appear but an article on Yahoo! Travel naming Newport Beach as its No. 2 pick – behind none other than New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza – of “Top 10 Destinations for Holiday Lights.” We even beat out the happiest place on Earth, Walt Disney World in Orlando!
Reading the article gave me a new perspective about how visitors view our fine tradition: “For more than a century, Newport Beach’s ‘Christmas Boat Parade’ has delighted spectators with a ‘Christmas-sea’ feeling all its own. A fine flotilla of some 200 vibrantly decorated vessels, from multimillion-dollar yachts right down to simple canoes, glides through Newport Harbor as holiday music and costumed carolers fill the air with melodious merrymaking. The brilliant boat parade (it’s the oldest one in the country) attracts close to a million viewers … .Show up on the closing night for a fireworks finale.”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out that the Indy’s very own Capt. Mike Whitehead will again be the official “voice of the parade,” coming to us live with his wise and witty nautical commentary from the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum on the Balboa Peninsula. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m., so bundle up and give yourself plenty of time to get to your favorite viewing spot through the traffic and crowds.
If you are new to the area, or just visiting, don’t miss this most wonderful time of the year in Newport Harbor. And for those of us who have seen the parade for many years, I challenge us all to view it like it was the first time and feel that “Christmas-sea Feelin’” once more.
For more information, log on to www.christmasboatparade.com where you can also download a map of the parade route.
Columnist Lynn Selich resides in Newport Beach. She encourages feedback and story ideas be sent to [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook at Lynn Selich-Columnist.