The 101st annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade began Wednesday. It goes on every night in Newport Harbor (from 6:30 to 9PM) 'til Sunday, which is the grand finale. Saturday will probably see max crowds. We went last night (Thursday) and the island was hoppin'. Electric.
The boats are colorful and fun to watch. Sure. But the best part of the boat parade is simply being out among the festivities .. with a big crowd of Orange County people, who are all in a festive mood .. exuding the Christmas spirit. (And it's all free.)
All the houses on the island are decorated to the hilt. (One guy told me his electric bill was $600/month. His meter was spinning like a dang gyro.)
Some years the weather is freezing (by Southern California standards), being on the water, but last night it was downright balmy. We saw at least two brass bands, complete with tuba, playing your favorite Christmas songs.
The Bug brought along his scooter (razor), which worked well for getting around. We started on Balboa Island and rode the ferry across to the peninsula, where we played in the fun zone for a while. (I let him beat me at air hockey, 7-to-5, and then shoot a gun in a stand-up video game, where he blasted lots of villians.)
Of course we had to get some hot buttered popcorn, and after that, a light-saber from a sidewalk vendor, who pushed a dazzling cart surrounded by eager kids. What a great time we had.
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The Bug was pretty tired by the time we got home. (Me too.)
We've been reading Tolkien's The Hobbit at bedtime. We finally got to the part where Bilbo meets the dragon (Smaug, at Lonely Mountain), and steals a piece from his treasure .. which Smaug is none-too-happy about, as you might imagine. (You know how ornery dragons can get when people pilfer their treasure.)
Parking is the worst part of the boat parade. It's a mad-house. The cops block off many streets that normally provide access to the island. We took the bus down, as did many others, rather than fight traffic. So the bus ride was like a big rolling party-on-wheels down to the boat parade.
If you drive, it's best to arrive an hour early and park in the public parking on the peninsula, at the Balboa Pier (not the Newport Pier). Then take the Balboa Island ferry across to the island ($1 for adults and 50-cents for kids.)
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