One of Newport Beach's most beloved holiday events is ready for its close up, with thousands of people expected to attend the Christmas boat parade despite recent efforts by a local group to dim the holiday tradition.
The 104th annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade sets sail tonight, the first of five nights that a variety of watercraft will light up the Newport Harbor with lights, music and holiday cheer. For the first time ever, the boat extravaganza will showcase a fireworks show on opening and closing nights.
The parade, which charts a 14-mile route through the harbor, will run nightly through Sunday starting off Bay Island at 6:30 p.m. each evening and finishing at about 9 p.m.
The boat parade, which was recognized last year as one of the nation's best holiday events, was targeted this month by the group Stop the Dock Tax. The group asked homeowners who line the route of the annual boat parade in Newport Harbor to turn off Christmas decorations and pull their boats out of the parade in protest of dock rents hike approved last week by the city council.
Despite the recent controversy, event organizers say they expect the parade to go on without a hitch.
“This event belongs to Newport Beach. No single group can take it hostage and threaten to hurt others because they have their own issue to resolve," said Gary Sherwin, president and CEO of Visit Newport Beach Inc., the city’s destination marketing group. “The Christmas Boat Parade will shine on, so bring your friends, family and guests to come down for a great show.”
Newport Beach police will be monitoring the traffic in the area of the boat parade and say left-turn lanes from westbound East Coast Highway to southbound Jamboree Road and the right-turn lane from eastbound East Coast Highway onto southbound Jamboree may be closed if needed.
All city parking lots will be open throughout the parade to accommodate spectators.