The Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade will celebrate its milestone 50th anniversary Dec. 8, with the theme, “A Solid Gold Christmas.”

Created in 1963, the boat parade was launched two years before the official dedication of Marina del Rey, when there were only approximately 100 boats in the Marina, one restaurant and virtually no buildings.

A group of those original boaters banded together to form the Pioneer Skippers Boat Owners Association, which decided to have a Christmas Boat Parade to help attract visitors to the area and promote the Marina.

Since there was no budget for advertising, no Internet and e-mail at that time, the organizers walked the docks to get entrants, according to the county Department of Beaches and Harbors. A $2 donation was asked of the entrants to run the parade. The inaugural event involved 20 boats.

Today, there are nearly 4,500 boats in the Marina and participants in the boat parade range from approximately 50 to a high of 100 entries. Recent grand prizes have included trips to Australia, Japan, Hawaii, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and New Orleans.

Marina del Rey is very excited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this special tradition that the Pioneer Skippers started so long ago, a Beaches and Harbors spokeswoman said. Special events, the grand prize and other boat entry prize packages are being planned for this year. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Information, (310) 670-7130, or www.mdrboatparade.org.

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