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Newport Beach's Christmas Boat Parade offers up a dazzling harbor

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On a beautiful night in Newport Beach, the 105th edition of the Christmas Boat Parade charmed thousands of visitors lining the shore and homes of Newport Bay. Over 100 boats were officially entered in the parade, with hundreds more decorated but not official entrants. According to Yahoo Travel, the Parade is ranked as the "#2 Holiday Attraction in the United States".

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The boats, ranging in size from Standup Paddleboards to Mega Yachts, were colorfully decorated to the theme of “Rockin around the Christmas Tree”. With Santas large and small, carolers, music, and lights, lots of lights, the boats weaved through the channels of the bay.

Newport’s Parade, the oldest and largest of its kind, attracts spectators from around the world. Among those watching the parade’s opening night were journalists and television crews from Saigon TV and the Chinese press from Beijing. As a preview to the parade, spectacular fireworks showed set the scene for the colorful festivities.

The Christmas Parade, which runs five nights, starts from the middle of Newport’s Main Channel and wanders through most of Newport’s channels. Led by one of Newport’s Harbor Patrol boats, the procession of boats in the parade takes about 35 minutes to pass a given point. So from the start at 6:30 PM to the end of the parade at 9:30 PM, the harbor is a dazzle of lights being reflected off the boats and the vividly decorated houses lining the waterfront.

For the boats entered in the parade, many vie for some of the coveted prizes and bragging rights the prizes bestow on the winners. To that point, while it is not common, some boaters will be spending up to $50,000 on lights, sound systems and decorations. Even some of the smaller boats (those around 15 – 20 feet), can be fully decorated with the amazing lighting displaying the Christmas spirit.

Some ideas should you want to watch the Newport Parade over the next four nights

  • Arrive early. Parking is at a premium and arriving after 6 PM means a long walk.
  • Dress warmly. You are around the water and it can be cold.
  • Take snacks to nibble on as you await the parade to go by your location.
  • Bring a camera with a long lens. The boats will be close in at some venues and the pictures can be spectacular.
  • If you go on Saturday and Sunday, the boats awarded prizes will be displaying their award banners.
  • Consider booking on a commercial boat and view the parade as a participant.
  • Share the spirit of Christmas with those around you. This is a fun event, and when you and others nearby are enjoying it, the night becomes special.

The Newport Beach Christmas Parade is an amazing event. It appeals to people of all ages and is something you can see night after night. And like a parade at Disneyland, you can see it night after night and it never loses its appeal. And as a special inducement to have you stay and see the last night, there will be another fireworks extravaganza at the end of the parade.

Have fun and go boating.

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