Congratulations to all the boat owners who gave the Marina community one of its finest holiday boat parades.

The fact that the weather was perfect and that there was no wind helped bring out the colored lights and decorations.

The fireworks this year were outstanding. Our thanks to the County Department of Beaches and Harbors for funding this wonderful opening to the boat parade.

Friday evening there was a preview parade that drew some 20 lighted boats. Hopefully, that event will also grow in the coming years. The preview parade gave boat owners who had worked so hard on their decorations an opportunity for a preview run of the parade route.

We were honored to serve as a judge again this year and especially to be placed on Never Never Land, the 63-foot Hatteras owned by Nick Saakvitne and Steven Rosebaugh. They are always such great hosts.

Boat parade volunteers Alie Gaffan and Joyce Rodin were assigned to assist the judges on the Never Never Land and did a great job seeking out boat entry numbers and describing for us the theme of each boat as it went by.

We were also well attended to by Don Tillilie, the bar manager over at the Marina Venice Yacht Club.

Don is from Ocean Springs, Mississippi and was obviously enjoying the boat parade himself.

We were close enough to Burton Chace Park to hear the bouncy commentary of Lisa Osborn and Mickey Laszlo, who were offering their take on the parade to the crowds that gathered in the park.

The California Yacht Club Juniors won top honors with their clever 40-foot lighted bell that swung back and forth on the 50-foot Cheyenne. The Juniors called their entry “Our Ding A Ling.”

The next morning at the awards brunch at Del Rey Yacht Club we were told that the Juniors have entered three consecutive boat parades and were obviously delighted to finally win the big prize.

The Juniors include both youthful sailors and rowers at the yacht club.

To be honest, we had both the California Yacht Club Juniors and Trinity, a 42-foot powerboat entered by owner Regina Risolio, as our favorites.

Trinity was the entry that featured “The Sights and Sounds of the First Christmas Where It All Began in Bethlehem.” The side of the boat had a Nativity scene, camels, wise men and an angel announcing the birth of Jesus.

Trinity did well, too, winning as best powerboat and best entry by an individual. The boat was second in the theme category.

Then there were Mark and Tina Fodera who live down in Gardena and wanted to enter their trailerable 21-foot powerboat, Marcellino, named for their young son.

“They were first-timers and Tina even asked me, ‘How do you get to Marina del Rey?'” laughed Cindy Williams, boat parade president.

They certainly should give a special award for boat parade dedication to boat owner Mike Sudo, whose boat No Ka Oi was damaged in that Friday boat fire in the Marina.

No Ka Oi was in a slip adjacent to the boat seriously damaged in the boat fire.

Mike had entered the boat parade and was ready to hit the main channel with his entry when the fire broke out.

Between Friday and the Saturday evening start of the boat parade, Mike went out and found Antara, a 38-foot sailboat, got his new decorations up and was in place for the 6 p.m. Saturday start.

The fire damaged the port side of No Ka Oi and the boat parade decorations were on the starboard side. Luckily, his big snowman didn’t melt in the fire.

No Ka Oi and its replacement, Antara, had as their theme “A USC Cardinal and Gold Merry Christmas.”

And, yes, that snowman survived the fire to offer the USC victory sign throughout the boat parade while a lighted sign that also survived the fire read:

“Fight On.”

Fans of the Oklahoma Sooners have been duly warned that USC fans don’t give up easily.

For making lots of something out of very little, we should remember Captain Alex G. Balian, who won a second place honor for “best music” by playing a single trumpet on Silver Eagle, a 42-foot Catalina sailboat.

Wow, the music that Captain Alex managed to pull out of that single trumpet while carolers and singers accompanied on deck was fantastic.

We had other music in the parade, too. The Birmingham High School Singers sang on Miss Christy while Julie and Todd Arutunian won the top music honors with reggae music on their Irie Dayz, which had an “Island Hawaii theme.”

In addition to the above-mentioned entries, we especially enjoyed:

n the illuminated snowballs on True Love, the 40-foot Trojan Express cruiser skippered by Chris Fredericks;

n the lights of “Blue Hawaii” on Prime Time, a 40-foot powerboat skippered by Frank Castro;

n the combination of Santa, his reindeer, a menorah, a rocking horse, a bear, a penguin and fiberoptic lighting that River Galley Cruises managed to put together on the Fantasy I, top winner for charter entries;

n the jazz music supplied by a 20-piece jazz band from the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies that was on Shoreliner, a 65-foot aluminum vessel; Mark Monarch conducted the musicians; and

n the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club entry on Merryweather, a 34-foot Catalina sailboat owned by yacht club staff commodore Dick Bell. Enjoyed the “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” theme.

And we cannot leave our commentary on the boat parade without acknowledging the entry from the City of Santa Monica, Monica I, a 30-foot powerboat that featured Santa Monica’s aquatic officers and lots of spraying water.

Great show, neighbors!