Watching the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade each year, the first reaction is usually pleasure and appreciation of the lights and decorations on each boat. The second reaction might be, “Wow, what a lot of work went into decorating those boats!”
One of the individual winners for best powerboat for the last five years, Regina Risolio, says the amount of work for her as an individual is at least double that of contestants with financial backing, or for those who belong to yacht clubs or have family manpower to help decorate the boats.
In addition to winning best powerboat category for the past five years, Risolio also won best individual category and second place for best theme in 2004, second place in best lights in 2003, second place in best music in 2002, and second place in best music in 2000.
Risolio is in real estate and a resident of Marina del Rey since 1982. She started boating in 1999, when she went out on a friend’s boat.
“I love the water and thought, I’ve got to get a boat like this of my own,” she said.
To prepare for the boat parade, Risolio looks at the theme for the parade and tries to consider overall categories in her planning. Of course, making a list is the first item of business. She concentrates on finding different and unique decorations, and has had decorations made to her specifications.
“The Good Ship Lollypop” design one year had her contacting a local movie studio and one of the craftsmen actually built a large ice cream cone for her boat. Risolio estimates that she spends around $2,000 to decorate her boat.
It takes her about four to five weeks of shopping and two weeks to put up the decorations. Risolio said she doesn’t go to work the three weeks before the parade, devoting the entire time to decorating. Her best time for putting everything up is four days, she said.
“My poor neighbors at B Basin really put up with a lot. I have boxes and stuff all over the dock, and they are really good about negotiating their way through the mess. I’m out there working at night in the cold, and sometimes they get a good laugh watching me work,” Risolio said.
There are at least 30 to 40 trips to stores from here to the valley. Last year she found a full-size nativity scene in the valley, but had to hire someone with a truck to bring it to the Marina.
“My PT Cruiser surprisingly holds a lot of stuff, but these life-size figures were just too big,” Risolio said.
She estimates that she uses thousands of lights for decorating, and recalls several frustrating events. One year the flickering waves of lights stopped flickering, and she had to unhook five or six strings of lights, clip off the zip ties, and look for the offending bulb.
Another year the six-foot train only lit up halfway and her boat engine ran out of gas. One year her generator broke down, but Risolio said that turned out to be beneficial because the man who repaired it also loaned her a karaoke machine for the boat. The year she started up her fog machine the guys in the fire department boats came over, ready to extinguish what they thought was a fire.
No matter how ready you think you are, you never have enough extension cords, lights, zip ties, cutters or duct tape. There are always numerous last-minute trips to the store, she says.
One problem for Risolio is her height. At four-feet, ten inches, reaching up to fasten decorations can be a daunting task. She generally needs four or five tall guys to volunteer to help with the decorations, she said.
“This year I was actually thinking of not entering the parade, but I realized that I couldn’t sit there and watch all of the other boats entered, knowing that I wasn’t participating, and I think I would have gone crazy,” she admits.