Photos: The Festive Boats Of The Marina Del Rey Holiday Boat Parade
Marina del Rey's 53rd Annual Boat Parade took place on Saturday evening, with dozens of festive boats decked out for the season.
Florence Henderson served as this year's Grand Marshal, and the theme was "Adventures on the Sea." Organizers handed out glow sticks to attendees to illuminate the night. Snow had been brought in to Burton Chase Park during the day for children to play with, some of which was still there when the parade began.
LAist photographer Annie Lesser said that children came up and sang Christmas carols in between boats, but that when the kids got too shy, the announcers would sing in saccharine fake voices in their place. She noted she was also surprised to see no Hanukkah boats at the holiday parade—only Christmas-themed entries—though the parade changed its name from Christmas Boat Parade to Holiday Boat Parade a while back.
Some boat owners went all out, stringing rows of festive lights and taking reindeer and Santa figures on board. One boat had Pirates of the Caribbean projected onto the sails. Several entries blasted Christmas tunes, and the whole event kicked off with fireworks. You can see the boats that took home prizes on the parade's website here.
The first boat parade in Marina Del Rey occurred in 1963 and consisted of about 20 boats. According to the parade's website, there were only about 100 boats in the Marina back then and hardly any buildings. The idea for the parade came from the charter members of the Pioneer Skippers Boat Owners Association, formed by Margie and Steve Bragg. Margie thought the parade would be a good advertisement for the Marina.
From the site:
"The Marina had just opened and had no breakwater, no nothing except a few docks. And very few boat owners. In those days, the surge was so strong that it was frightening,” Margie remembered, referring to the waves of water that would come roaring into the unprotected Marina del Rey harbor, damaging berthed boats. "There were times when it threw boats up on the docks — or threw the docks up in the air and down on to the boats. Sometimes we'd all grab axes we kept handy to cut the docklines quickly, before our boats were beaten under the docks. Then we'd all anchor out in the middle til it calmed down. We were a very close group and we had dinners ashore and sometimes dinner dances at our home.”
The entry for that inaugural parade was just $2. In 1964, a detached breakwater was built, which fixed the issues with surge, and the Marina grew, now home to 6,000 boats and plenty of nearby restaurants and retail.