Snow Wonder 1 to 5 p.m. | Fireworks 5:55 p.m. | Parade 6 p.m.
On a sunny December weekend in 1962, a handful of pioneering boaters decided it would be fun to decorate their vessels with Christmas lights and parade the freshly dredged main channel of the not-quite-finished Marina del Rey harbor.
Fifty-three years later, the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade has become an indispensable community tradition that’s still growing in scope and popularity.
Before the fireworks go off on Saturday and the boats line-up under this year’s theme of “Adventures on the Sea,” early arrivals can enjoy the L.A. County Dept. of Beaches and Harbors’ inaugural “Snow Wonder” — a free and family-friendly holiday festival at Burton Chace Park that includes a pop-up ice skating rink and a snow area for playing and sledding. Be sure to bring snacks or order from one of three food trucks (Tokyo Doggie Style, B&R Burgers and Sweet Amsterdam) serving throughout the festival and parade.
Click here for the Official Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade Program
Last year’s parade featured 63 decorated boats, including some of the most impressive entries in years.
Peter Ellis, Colin Kastner and a small army of volunteers dazzled the crowd with a computer-animated LED light display of a giant champagne bottle toasting Marina del Rey’s golden anniversary.
Parade participants since 1991, Ellis and crew will try to outdo themselves this year with a new entry called “In Search Of.” Ellis is keeping the details secret until the parade, but he says to expect an animated light display bolstered by live entertainment on board his 34-foot Catalina sailboat.
Another much-anticipated entry will feature a coordinated procession of three boats honoring U.S. military veterans. Entry organizer Monte Cook III, a longtime parade supporter and founder of the nonprofit Supporting Our Servicemen, still has room on the boat for veterans in uniform. Call him (310) 913-5533 to reserve a spot.
While the sheer artistry of the parade’s more dazzling entries in year’s past may be tough to match, Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade President Kelly King says newcomers with even the simplest of concepts are more than welcome to join this year’s parade. It’s not about competition — it’s about having fun, he says.
“It’s not about how many lights are on your boat,” says Ellis. “It’s the spirit and creativity that the people on the shore really appreciate.”
— Joe Piasecki
Entries are being accepted until 10 a.m. on the day of the parade (but the earlier the better, King says). Call (310) 670-7130 or visit mdrboatparade.org.