In Japanese, they call it booto paredo.
It means “boat parade” and for Ross Wood, that’s good to know, for he will be traveling to Japan soon to act as a judge for a booto paredo.
Wood won top honors in last Saturday’s Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, earning him an all-expense-paid trip to Tokyo for five days.
“The funny thing is, I’ve never owned a boat before in my life,” said Wood, chuckling. “My sons and I decided to go fishing a couple of months ago and we enjoyed it so much that one day we told my wife we were going to go buy a fishing boat, but we came back with a 44-foot Hunter sailboat.” Wood has now owned Gallorosso for three months and he thought that it would be nice to be a part of the boating community and decorate the boat a little to participate in the parade.
A contractor by trade and an admitted karaoke-aholic, Wood enlisted his family and became mildly consumed with the decoration project.
He created flying reindeer made from white lights and PVC pipe that extended past the bow sprit, hoisted colored lights up the mast, placed a lit Christmas tree on the cabin top and ribbons upon the stanchions, procured a Santa look-a-like and also sang Elvis Christmas tunes through one of his karaoke machines.
“We got most of the reindeer put together by the Sunday before the parade and I got my wife down on Tuesday to help until about 10 p.m.,” Wood said.
“Then I came back down on Thursday night and worked a lot, but didn’t get enough done. So I took off at noon from work on Friday to try and finish off as much as I could.
“I personally have about 40 hours in it.”
Once finished, Wood and his gang made a party of it — singing and dancing as they circled the track, with only slight apprehension over the navigational impediment the lit-up reindeer presented.
“My neighbor, Marilyn, was standing on the bow of the boat with Santa Claus, making sure we weren’t going to hit anybody because the reindeer in the front were so bright you couldn’t see squat,” Wood said.
Wood went through quite a bit of heartache in the process leading up to the win.
In the beginning, while hoisting all of the lights up the mast, they lost hold of them and the strands of lights came shattering down onto the deck.
The rest of that day was spent replacing broken bulbs.
On the Saturday of the parade, Wood realized his wife was bringing a dozen of her girlfriends along and he hadn’t pumped out the holding tank.
After rushing to do that and then returning to finish decorating, he found that his karaoke microphone had vanished and the remote control for the karaoke machine had stopped working.
While all that was happening, his son — who was slated to skipper the boat while Wood sang — came down with a 103-degree fever and was bedridden.
“I thought, ‘What else can go wrong?’ ” Wood recalls. “It was one of those things where everything kind of goes wrong at the last second, but then all comes together.”
The weather was near perfect for the parade, with very little wind, so the water was flat and reflective for the lights to bounce off. Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade president Cindy Williams was delighted and relieved with the success of this year’s event.
“It’s a lot of work, but when you see that whole thing come together that night, you think — that’s what it’s all about,” said Williams. “It’s such an awesome event.”