A free three-day celebration with tall ships, classic cars and a concert by Three Dog Night marks the 50th birthday of the largest manmade small-craft harbor in the world

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By Michael Aushenker

Dedicated on April 10, 1965, as a place of enjoyment for the residents of Los Angeles County, Marina del Rey is officially 50 years old on Friday.

It’s a milestone that won’t pass quietly.

Marina del Rey’s 50th Birthday Bash promises to be a blockbuster, running Friday through Sunday in the harbor’s main channel and in Burton Chace Park.

Highlights include an official county commemoration and fireworks display, a free concert in the park by Three Dog Night, tall ships open for day sails and tours, a yacht club boat parade, the annual MarinaFest Boat Show and a rally of classic automobiles — all of it free, with water taxi service between Mother’s Beach and Fisherman’s Village.

The big weekend begins 11 a.m. tomorrow with the arrival of L.A. Maritime Institute schooners the Bill of Rights, the Irving Johnson, the Exy Johnson and the Amazing Grace — the latter a replica of an American ship that did battle with the British during the War of 1812, said Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors spokeswoman Carol Baker.

The county’s official anniversary ceremony begins at 5 p.m. when a phalanx of local officials headed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe go to battle with a microphone.

The free concert by Three Dog Night begins at 7 p.m. in Burton Chace Park, with water taxi service to and from the concert.

“We wanted a band that was representative of the era, but we also wanted one that was upbeat and fun and takes people back to  a happy time,” Baker said of Three Dog Night, best known for their chart-topping songs “Joy to the World,” “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” and “Black and White.”

In its late 1960s and early 1970s heyday, Three Dog Night racked up 12 gold albums and cracked the Billboard Top 40 with 21 consecutive hits, of which seven went gold, selling 40 million records during those years.

The current band lineup includes founding members and lead vocalists Danny Hutton and Cory Wells, plus Michael Allsup, Paul Kingery and Pat Bautz. Although “Joy to the World” singer Chuck Negron is no longer involved with the band, Wells and Hutton sang lead on “Mama Told Me Not to Come” and “Black and White,” respectively.

A full fireworks display follows the concert.

On Saturday and Sunday, the annual MarinaFest Boat Show takes over the harbor with state-of-the-art sailing and power vessels (some of them for sale) as the tall ships engage in mock cannon battles in the marina’s main channel.

For landlubbers there will be dozens of booths, food trucks and family-friendly activities on hand, including a live mermaid appearance, while taxi service to and from Fisherman’s Village allows attendees to visit at
2 p.m., when R&B groups Friends (Saturday) and Floyd and the Fly Boys (Sunday) transform Fisherman’s Village into Funkytown.

Inside the Burton Chace Park community room at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, retired journalist and longtime Playa del Rey resident Robert Krauch, author of the January 1964 Westways magazine article “Ducks, Dredges and Developers,” speaks with the Marina del Rey Historical Society’s David Maury about the many failed plans for a harbor before the 1960s.

Sunday’s cornerstone event is no doubt the classic car show. Organizer Christine Rohde promises a full array of vintage automobiles from the 1960s, including muscle cars such as 442s, LeMans, GTOs, Corvettes, Mustangs, Porsche 356s and VWs.

“Also a substantial contingent of Woodies, which were the preferred choice of the surf culture of the ‘60s,” Rohde said. “Most are from the Santa Barbara Woodies Club. We will have more than 15.”

Throughout Sunday, a D.J. spins upbeat 1960s pop — think songs by the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, and the Mamas and the Papas — while an in-water boat show, pirates and a Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club open house take place.

Here’s to another 50, Marina del Rey. Party on!

Marina Del Rey’s 50th Birthday Bash is centered at Burton Chace Park (13650 Mindanao Way), with Fisherman’s Village (13755 Fiji Way) also serving as a hub of activity. Call (310) 877-5500 or log on to visitmarinadelrey.com.

 

Marina del Rey 50th Celebration Highlights
(Check for schedule updates during the event)

FRIDAY
Tall Ship Tours, noon to 3 p.m.
Historic Harbor Tours, noon to 6 p.m.
Tall Ship Day Sails, 1 to 2:30 p.m.; 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Gourmet Food Trucks, 1 to 5 p.m.
Tall Ship Cannon Battle, 3:30 p.m.
Official Commemorative Ceremony, 5 p.m.
50th Birthday Cake Cutting, 6 p.m.
Three Dog Night Concert, 7 p.m.
Fireworks, 8 p.m.

SATURDAY
Del Rey Yacht Club Boat Parade, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
MarinaFest Boat Show, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Historic Harbor Tours, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fisherman’s Village Celebration, noon to 5 p.m.
Tall Ship Tours, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Marina del Rey Historical Society Presentation, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Tall Ship Day Sails, 2:30 to 4 p.m.; 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Tall Ship Tours, 5 to 7 p.m.

SUNDAY
MarinaFest Boat Show, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Classic Car Show, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Historic Harbor Tours, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fisherman’s Village Celebration, noon to 5 p.m.
Tall Ship Day Sails, 1 to 2:30 p.m.; 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Marina del Rey Historical Society Presentation, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Tall Ship Cannon Battle, 3:30 p.m.
Tall Ship Tours, 5 to 7 p.m.

michael@argonautnews.com

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