The ended with a bang of fireworks Sunday, but officials say the overall turnout was down from years past.
The number of festive boats dropped about 20 percent, from more than 100 in previous years to about 80 this December, despite the parade being touted as the in the nation by Yahoo! Travel.
Spectators noticed the difference.
"I was surprised how soon the parade was over," said Lindsay Hodgins, who watched from the Balboa Bay Club on . "I think that was the shortest boat parade that I can remember."
Some boat owners blamed the lack of participation on the $25 registration fee and high cost of lighting and displays. Creating elaborate decorations and hiring a captain to maneuver the traffic in the bay can costs thousands of dollars.
"The [parade] committee wants you to be in the parade all five nights, and I can't do that," said one Newport boat owner who dropped out three years ago and wanted to remain anonymous. "It's too expensive and I can't make it out there every night."
Chamber of Commerce officials insisted nightly participation is encouraged but not required.
"It's not mandatory," chamber President Richard Luehrs said. "There are many visitors who come to see the parade every year and we want to encourage [boat owners] to be in it each night. We could never repay them for the time and energy these boat owners put in."
Although Saturday and Sunday drew more boats than the first two nights, Luehrs said, overall participation was still down.
"The economic climate here has had its impact," Luehrs said. "There were over 100 registered boats in previous years."
As a small token of appreciation to those who participated in the parade, an awards dinner and a champagne reception will be held Jan. 27.