Transforming cruising sailboats into parade floats takes time, talent and creativity. Those words came into play seriously this past month as many area residents began the daunting task of turning their vessel into the “Winner” in their category.

Not only does this task require talent and creativity, but funds must be raised for the entry fee, the paint, the lights and, oh yes, Santa.

We must have generators to run the sound system and lights and we must have music!

Examples of what is entailed are illustrated by Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club (SMWYC) and Women’s Sailing Association (WSA) of Santa Monica Bay.

In early November the WSA design crew began their facet of the project. Once this was completed and approved, the real work began in a warehouse in Valencia.

Again, club member Emilio Basile has shared his Formosa 47-foot Noteworthy with WSA to produce “Christmas is for Kids of all ages.”

Ten or 12 members have driven to Valencia each weekend since Thanksgiving to construct and paint all of the pieces that will adorn the boat. On Friday, at their slip in Marina del Rey, the assembly will begin with one member (unknown) going up the mast to set the lights from the top.

The assembly and finishing of a boat truly resembles Santa’s toy shop, as member “elves” scurry back and forth, up and down the gangway, with countless last runs to West Marine and Gerald’s Hardware.

“Many times as the boat pulls away from the dock, final attachments are still being made,” commented WSA jr. staff commodore Barbara Barrett.

The Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club’s entry, “‘Twas the Night before Christmas,” began to take shape on the floor at the club, Sunday, as the rain drove Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club (SMWYC) “elves” inside.

Before the creative work began, staff commodores Debbie Thomson and Dick Bell produced a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the project. Forty or so members dined and then began to sketch, cut and construct the props for their entry.

Staff commodore Dick Bell’s Catalina 34 Merryweather will be the base for SMWYC’s transformation of their entry.

The means by which these two clubs raise funds is very creative. Both clubs sell chances to members on the prizes they may win.

Both clubs have won the top prize, of a trip to the sister city holiday parade, and members must be ready to travel if they hold the winning ticket. Just ask WSA staff commodore Fran Weber-Melville and John, for they got the word on a Sunday that they would be leaving for Japan on Thursday to participate in that celebration. So dust off your passport and have those bags packed!

WSA vice commodore Patti Eagan and SMWYC staff commodore Debbie Thomson shared that their clubs have participated consistently over the years and feel that this is a special way to share their organizations with the community.

To enjoy the labors of their efforts, you must be in the audience on Saturday evening, as both have chosen to participate only on Saturday.

Good Luck to all participants, and may the weather gods favor us with clear skies, crisp air and a joyous evening in Marina del Rey – a true Chamber of Commerce evening under the stars!