Joy on the Water
We are so excited to present the 59th Annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade on Saturday, December 11. After we had to modify the parade for 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, and not knowing whether the 2021 parade was going to happen, our board of directors put together what we think is going to be an incredible parade.
Community support is so important for us to put on this parade every year. This year, Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital has stepped up as our presenting sponsor and we couldn’t have asked for a better partner.
With all of us getting “back to normal,” we thought it was fitting to honor those who sacrificed so much to get us through the pandemic. In the past we have had the honor of memorable grand marshals like Dick Van Dyke, Ed McMahon, Cloris Leachman and Florence Henderson.
This year, we thought it fitting to honor our local heroes, the doctors and nurses, for all they have done for our community. We are honored to have Dr. Steven Krems and Joanne Laguna-Kennedy, both from Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital, to represent our local heroes.
Marina del Rey
Holiday Boat Parade
The First Boat Parade
Thousands of people who live in the marina and thousands more from miles around come to the marina to see the annual boat parade in Marina del Rey. But very few remember the first boat parade in Marina del Rey. When that first boat parade circled the marina’s main basin in 1963, there were approximately 100 boats and almost no buildings. Twenty of the hundred boats entered the parade.
Margie and Steve Bragg were among the first hundred Marina del Rey boat owners who formed Pioneer Skippers Boat Owners Association. They and the other charter members decided to have a boat parade “because the harbor had nothing at the time,” Margie said. “We thought it was a good idea, and the county was delighted. Our boat parade would advertise the marina when nobody wanted to come here. The marina had just opened and had no breakwater, no nothing except a few docks. And very few boat owners.”
“In those days, the surge was so strong that it was frightening,” Margie recalled, referring to the waves of water that would come roaring into the unprotected Marina del Rey harbor, damaging berthed boats. “There were times when it threw boats up on the docks — or threw the docks up in the air and down onto the boats. Sometimes we’d all grab axes we kept handy to cut the dock lines quickly, before our boats were beaten under the docks. Then we’d all anchor out in the middle till it calmed down. We were a very close group and we had dinners ashore and sometimes dinner dances at our home.”
“In the beginning, we walked the docks to get parade entries,” Margie said. “We asked for a $2 donation. I remember talking to a man who wanted to enter but he didn’t have any money and I was so anxious to see his boat in the parade that I offered him the $2 entry fee. What fun it was! Everyone chipped in — and worked!”
Donations from merchants and hard work by boat owners put the boat parades together.
“For the first few years, each parade might have cost us $50 or $60,” Margie said. “In fact, it may have been less. Everything but printing the entry form was done by donation, and the printer gave us a nice low price on the entry forms.”
The marina grew from 100 to nearly 6,000 boats since the first few boat parades. In 1964, a detached breakwater was built to solve the surge problems. The first restaurant, Pieces of Eight on Fiji Way, is now Whiskey Red’s. The Christmas Boat Parade is now the Holiday Boat Parade.
Along with newcomers who watch this parade for the first time are the many boat owners and crew who have perpetuated our salute to the holidays, Marina del Rey’s annual Holiday Boat Parade.