Locals come out to play during the Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade Photo by Jonathan Alcorn

Locals come out to play during the Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade
Photo by Jonathan Alcorn

Marina del Rey may get most of the attention when it comes to holiday boat parades, but those looking for a more neighborhood-level nautical celebration should look no further than the charming Venice canals.

The grassroots Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade, now in its 34th year, paddles off on Sunday, Dec. 13, from the corner of Eastern and Sherman canals. This year’s theme is “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Gondolas, rowboats, kayaks and rafts decked out in holiday lights and paddled by locals — some no doubt in Santa suits — begin to float down the canals at 4 p.m. sharp.

Thanks to Santa taking an unexpected dip in the water one year, parade vessels are kept small and low so they can glide beneath the canals’ low bridges with ease.

Boats from past years have been decorated to look like the Red Car electric trolleys that used to travel along what is now Pacific Avenue.

Colleen Ebert, who helped organize the canals’ annual Bridge Lighting and Holiday Party on Dec. 6, enjoys the “community feeling” of the event.

“Everybody gets out there and the kids love it,” she says.
The holiday sparkle isn’t limited to the water. There is a home- and bridge-decorating contest happening the day before the parade (judging is at 6:30 p.m. Saturday), and winners will be announced at the start of the boat parade.

To enjoy all of the festivities, spectators should secure a viewing spot when the boats line up at 3:30 p.m., so plan to arrive early.

— Christina Campodonico

The 34th annual Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade starts at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, at the corner of Eastern and Sherman canals. The parade is organized by members of the Venice Canals Association, on the web at venicecanalsassociation.org.

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