LA Harbor Holiday Parade
November 20, 2017
Fifty-five concurrent years is a long time for a tradition to roll on. That’s more than half the average human lifespan, and more than enough time for society to change significantly. That change means very little to residents of Southern California in the apartments for rent in Bay Ridge, at least, when it comes to one very particular tradition. The LA Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade has been a staple for decades, and this year, its 55th, it’s still going strong. There will be lights, wonderment, excitement, and a whole lot more in store, so keep reading to find out exactly what you’ll need to know about this spectacle on the water.
It’s Been Going On For How Long?
2017 marks the 55th year for the Annual LA Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade, its beginnings can be traced back to 1934, when “U.S. naval ships in San Pedro were transformed into a fairyland of giant trees and scenery for the annual Christmas fiesta,” and “Santa Claus traveled by seaplane between the ships in the Navy benefit for 1,500 low-income youngsters.” In 1936, the event expanded, when “4,000 children were guests at the Christmas benefit on Navy ships in San Pedro harbor.” It wasn’t until 1962, though, that the first official LA Harbor Holiday Afloat parade was held:
“Sponsored by the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and promoted by the Port of Los Angeles, an estimated 40,000 people came to see 57 boats competing for awards...Master Sergeant Silas Bass presided as parade commodore. Officers from Fort MacArthur and the US Coast Guard aboard the Angels Gate tug judged the entries in the East Basin. Awards, that included a 5 1/2-foot-tall Sweepstakes Trophy were presented in a special ceremony aboard the Sierra Nevada ferry boat at Ports ‘O Call prior to the start of the parade.”
From there, the event continued to grow, becoming bigger and better with each subsequent installment. If you’re interested, you can view more about the history of the parade here. It’s quite the read, however, you probably want to hear more about what’s going on this year, no?
This Year’s Holiday Afloat Parade
This year’s parade will occur on December 2, at 6:00PM, right along the LA Waterfront at the Port Of Los Angeles. The theme for the event is “Peace Around The World,” and LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn of the 4th District will serve as Grand Marshal for the Parade. There will be numerous ships in attendance and participating:
“The Exy Johnson and Irving Johnson, the official Tall Ships and Maritime Ambassadors of the City of Los Angeles along with vessels of all shapes and sizes will participate including powerboats, sailboats and harbor working craft.”
And they’ll be decked out in their best decorations. The goal is the get the best Christmas decorations with the best arrangement and the most jaw-dropping light displays. To get an idea of what past participants have gone with, take a look at this previous winner of the Grand Marshal’s Award “Wanna Tango,” or this past winner of the Judge’s Choice Award, “Bad Boyz II.” In addition to those categories, boats will be able to win awards in areas like animation, humor, holiday spirit, most original, commercial, themes, traditional, and the children’s choice award.
You can check out the parade route here, and a a list of the important points around the waterfront during the parade here. The best vantage points for viewing the parade are as follows:
• Banning’s Landing Community Center, 100 E. Water Street, Wilmington
• Cruise Ship Promenade, Harbor Boulevard and Swinford Street, San Pedro
• Battleship IOWA, 250 S. Harbor Blvd, San Pedro
• Downtown Harbor, 504 S. Harbor Blvd, San Pedro
• 22nd Street Landing, 141 W. 22nd Street, San Pedro
• SS Lane Victory, 3600 Miner Street, San Pedro
• Holiday Harbor – Cabrillo Marina, 285 Whalers Walk, San Pedro
The viewing areas will “afford spectators unencumbered views of the elaborately decorated boats and the opportunity for friends and family to join in the celebration,” and put them in position to check out one of the harbor’s many restaurants after the parade or head to the clubs at Ports O’ Call. The parade will last around 90 minutes, so it might be prudent to have a plan for what to do after everything is over.
Before the parade, though, there will be pre-show festivities for visitors to enjoy at the Banning’s Landing Community Center in Wilmington. There will also be a special viewing party aboard the Battleship IOWA that starts at 5:00PM:
“Fun for the whole family at North Pole Nights at the Big Stick aboard the Battleship IOWA starting at 5:00 pm. Watch the boat parade and enjoy the activities and holiday festivities. Don’t forget to bring your ice skates. The IOWA now features Holiday ice skating on board the only Navy vessel to have an ice rink.”
Santa Claus will be making visits to the battleship, bringing with him carolers and holiday treats. Visitors will be treated to face painting, hot cocoa, candy canes, flight simulator rides, and more. As part of their party tradition, the IOWA will also be firing off her guns to kick off the parade. You’ll need to snag some tickets for this exclusive way to view the parade, so be sure to check their website for more details. They’ll also be collecting unwrapped toys for charity, so consider bringing a donation for the needy if you are so able.
Thousands of people are getting ready to head on down to the waterfront, and thousands more will likely be watching this one from home if they can’t make it out in person. The Annual LA Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade is aided by many contributors and donors. If you’ve got a business and would like to help contribute to keeping this tradition going, you can learn more at the donor page.
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