As I was walking around the dock on Sunday where my boat is kept in Marina del Rey, there was a green minivan parked in the street with a pile of wood strapped to the roof and the insides packed to the rafters with a load of unidentifiable stuff. The poor little van looked like it would burst its sides.
Two guys were coming up the gangway with armfuls of lights and other matter for the umpteenth trip from the boat.
“Oh,” I silently realized in my mind. “This is the aftermath of the Christmas Boat Parade.”
“Hey, how’d you do?” I called.
“Best Overall,” said one of the guys, grinning, while the other man smiled with pride.
They were Colin Kastner and Peter Ellis and the duo looked happy but tired. I had watched the parade the night before and like many others, enjoyed viewing the 41 fastidiously decorated boats loaded with folks singing, dancing, waving and bellowing good tidings to the shoreside onlookers. Some of the boats, like Kastner and Ellis’s French Made, were incredibly adorned and detailed.
There were sailboat masts turned into ornate Christmas trees, enormous snowmen erected on coach-roofs and foredecks, lit-up Ferris wheels, live bands, Santas galore, and all kinds of other innovatively placed and crafted decor attached to the boats circling the main channel beneath the light rain that fell intermittently.
But it was when I saw these guys on the day after, happily making an endless number of trips from the boat to the van, packing the extraordinary amount of gear required for the event, that I realized how much work and commitment it takes to make the parade happen.
“We’ve been doing it since 1992,” said Ellis. “We don’t go buy stuff at Costco or wherever and just mount it on the boat — we design every part and make it completely original.”
A few other people came by and listened to the proud contest winners describe the process and it was clear that we all, on a certain level, forgot that there were actually people pouring such a great deal of time, effort and thought into making these floating masterpieces.
This year, after pouring their souls into a creation that even featured lights that simulated diving dolphins off of their bow, Kastner and Ellis were rewarded for their efforts with an all-expense-paid trip to Japan. Next year they will enjoy a luxury hotel in Tokyo and get the opportunity to be judges at the Tokyo Bay Parade.
Here are results of the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade in each category.
Best Overall — French Made, Colin Kastner;
Best Sail — Gallorosso, The Wood Family;
Best Power — Sun Stok’d, The Stokx Family;
Best Individual — Valhalla, Greg Potter;
Best Yacht Club — Kilgore, Marina-Venice Yacht Club;
Best Organization — Pastabilities, Marina-Venice Rotary Club with C&O Trattoria/Cucina;
Best Charter — Catalina Adventure, Pacific Adventure Cruises;
Theme — Lay Low, Cameron Dumas;
Music — Salsera, Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club;
Animation — Sun Stok’d, The Stokx Family;
Spirit — Farr Gone, Women’s Sailing Association;
Band — Sea Air, Ron Buccieri/Jim Petrie; and
Lights — Cabo Reina, Richard Weber.