The theme for the 45th Annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade — scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, December 8th, with fireworks starting the event at 5:55 p.m. at Burton Chace Park, is Holiday Magic, and the grand marshal is Garth Kemp of ABC7 “Eyewitness News.”

An entire year of planning and organization has been completed by the president of the boat parade, Cindy Williams, and the many other volunteers who oversee each detail to ensure that the boat parade runs smoothly.

What those watching the boat parade don’t realize is the tremendous amount of work and tireless effort that are put into those outstanding boat parades each year by the organizers behind the scenes.

Planning for each year’s annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade begins immediately after the end of the preceeding parade.

The Argonaut went directly to the source, Cindy Williams, the boat parade president for the past five years, for a rundown on the monthly events and planning that take place. Meetings actually start immediately after the parade, as organizers make an inventory of supplies left over for use the following year.

“As president of this event for the fifth year now, while I feel overwhelmed at times with things that need to be done, I do feel it an honor to be in charge of an event the community looks so forward to each year.” Williams says. “Once the event starts the night of the parade, I get chills just thinking that I’m the one actually in charge of the event — pinch me. Because of this event, I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people in the community which has enriched my life in so many ways.”

Here’s how Williams outlined the process:

December/January: Review of comments regarding the latest parade — what went right or wrong or could be improved upon; review of all photos of the parade and choosing photos to give each boater; thank-you letters to all boaters, sponsors, prize contributors, judge’s boat owners and volunteers (also schedule volunteer thank-you party); set meeting schedule for upcoming year; discuss possible new board members and idea for new theme.

After new theme is announced, update the Web site with boat parade data, theme and past winner’s photos.

February: Work on the budget; welcome new board members, if any; announce new theme, send press release to The Argonaut; discuss how to get more boaters to enter the parade; discuss potential grand marshal; discuss potential changes/updates to sponsor package and potential sponsors.

March: Discuss sweepstakes trip; discuss potential promotional items to be purchased.

April: Open discussion on new ideas for the year; start soliciting past sponsors, especially the airline sponsor so that the grand prize plans can be made; make contact with Japan to see if they would be willing to exchange again; and discuss potential grand marshal.

May: Open discussion on how to promote the parade by getting involved in community events — possible presentations and marketing tools; schedule volunteer meeting dates; contact motoryacht Mauretania to request they be the VIP viewing boat.

June: In addition to the regular board meeting, hold first monthly meeting and organize group for Westchester’s Fourth of July parade — how to decorate boat for the parade, who will walk in parade — shop for decorations.

July: Contact potential sponsors, send out sponsor packages; plan community events involvement, shop for supplies, start soliciting prizes.

August: Start advertising campaign with The Mariner and The Argonaut to promote parade; schedule a dockmaster party to get them involved with their boaters to promote the parade, distribute flyers/advertising material to dockmasters, dive shops, boating stores; discuss potential location for awards ceremony; begin soliciting for judge’s boats.

September: Discuss new advertising methods and how each volunteer is promoting the parade; organize water operations with the county and Marina Sheriff’s station.

October: Determine judge’s luncheon location; obtain bios/photos from judge participants; get logos from sponsors for street banners and Web site; e-mail past boat entrants an entry form; determine if new boat numbers are needed.

November: Organize local restaurants to donate food for VIP reception and purchase paper products for reception; discuss decorating ideas/shop for decorating supplies for Burton Chace Park; plan delivery of drinks and ice buckets to park; determine what grand marshal would like to eat and drink during parade; arrange water taxi; set up getting judges to different boats with Marina Sheriff’s Station; mail VIP invitations; send skippers package with instructions to all parade entrants; distribute prizes equally to parade participants; arrange prizes for best-in-category winners; grand prize winner goes to Japan.

December: Meet with security people at 8 a.m. to set them up at Burton Chace Park locations; purchase supplies for 9 a.m. skipper’s meeting where boaters get numbers and instructions; decorate park at 10 a.m., set up food tables and receive food 2 to 2:30 p.m. for 3:30 VIP reception.

The day after the parade, the awards ceremony is held. During the year whenever possible, presentations are made to groups to help promote the parade.

So, for those of you lusting after the power and fame held by the boat parade president, wishing you could be in the position to control this most coveted event, remember that Cindy, vice president Lowell Safier, board members and the many volunteers are just that, volunteers.

They also have very demanding jobs that take up much of their time, not to mention private lives with families, friends and pets. Oh yes, one more thing, they also need to sleep a certain amount of time at night to be fresh and ready to begin it all over again the next day, month and year.

Information about the boat parade, www.mdrboatparade.org/.

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