Saturday’s 55th annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade truly shined

1. Greg and Laverne Potter’s Valhalla; 2. Walt and Deborah Schwarz’s Blue Belle; 3. Manny and Angie Reyna’s Reyna Del Mar; 4 Jeannea Joran’s Chekkers; 5. Grand Marshal Carol Costello; 6. Limited Liability brought the spirit of Venice. Photos by Pat Reynolds

Anyone who was there can tell you: Burton Chace Park never felt so packed as it did Saturday night.

Unseasonably warm weather greeted families who arrived early for Snow Wonder, the third outing of a growing Marina del Rey tradition that this year allowed kids to play in 80 tons of snow. At sundown, the county’s inaugural Marina Lights program (continuing through New Year’s Eve) added a transformative sparkle.

But the main attraction was, of course, the 55th annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. This time the theme was “Let’s Dance,” which inspired a lot of participating skippers and crew to crank up the volume on lively tunes and even choreograph some dance numbers (including one limber lady on a pole who some attendees felt brought maybe a little too much sizzle for the little ones).

Pamela Johnson’s crew aboard the Invictus dressed in black suits lined with LED strips to create a mesmerizing illusion of animated light as they danced.

“They kind of looked like dancing puppets,” remarked Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade President Kelly King, who was quite impressed.

Laverne and Greg Potter dazzled the crowd by outfitting their 32-foot Valhalla with more lights than anyone thought possible, including Greg Potter.

“All weekend I argued the generator would blow, but she kept hanging more and more lights. It was like on ‘Star Trek’ — ‘Scotty, I need more power!’” he said. “So my wife’s the one who deserves the credit. As a good husband of 40 years, I just did exactly what she told me to do.”

With 64 official entries, there was a lot to see throughout the evening. As is tradition, a panel of volunteer judges highlighted favorite entries in multiple categories, including:


Best Overall: Senia Jade, Lynn Silverman (Del Rey Yacht Club)

Best Power Boat: Blue Belle, Walt & Deborah Schwarz

Best Sailboat: Chekkers, Jeannea Joran (Women’s Sailing Assoc. of Santa Monica)

Best Yacht Club Entry: Boundless, Susan Lord (California Yacht Club)

Best Entry by an Individual: Trinity, Perry Karidis

First Place, Theme: Reyna Del Mar, Manny & Angie Reyna

First Place, Music: Stiletto, Payam Manavi

First Place, Spirit: Matt Walsh, Sheryl Flaherty (Whale Watch)

First Place, Lights: Valhalla, Greg & Laverne Potter

First Place, Animation: Plan B, Mitch Niedbalec