Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

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Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
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By Robert Bernstein

The Holiday Boat Parade of Lights was a big hit Sunday night down at Stearn's Wharf! Boats festooned with colorful lights and displays gathered in the Santa Barbara Harbor and began a slow parade at 5:30PM.

Here is my full video playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLw9HTrrsfcOJljP9_WVdF3teKrMgTpshc

They headed far out from shore in a big arc, then came near shore near the Biltmore Hotel and Coral Casino. From there they hugged the shore along West Beach, then made their way close to the east side of Stearn's Wharf.

Making for a rather dense crowd of people trying to get the best close up view of the boats! When we arrived, the announcer was telling us the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was about to begin. But no one could figure out what this meant since the tree was already lit! Here is my video of the tree and the crowd around it.

Before the parade officially started, Santa rode by on the Harbor Patrol boat.

Here were the first four boats in the parade.

Next came Fishin Mission, Santa's Workshop, Dolphins, The Grinch, Snoopy, Dancers and more.

Next came Sea Creatures, Playing Cards and a Blue Theme boat.

Here was my final set of videos of the Boat Parade of Lights: Hang Ten Surfing Santa, Partiers and a Polar Bear.

There was a bit of a pause of ten or fifteen minutes as the boats made their way back to the harbor. And then a beautiful fireworks display! And then about five minutes after that ended, there was a brief encore! Can anyone explain that? Here is my video, including the encore tacked on at the very end.

Some of you may recognize Justin Gunn and his magnificent dragon from a variety of events, including Solstice, Lucidity, Fishbon and SBCAST. He was out with passenger Megan Illgner and this attracted a lot of attention, too!

As much as I love this event, I have to say that the Oxnard version is even more spectacular and easier to watch.

It happens at Channel Islands Harbor and can be viewed from the nearby bridge which gets closed to traffic. Oxnard Harbor has multiple channels which allows more boats to be seen at once. Ventura also has their version coming up on December 17 and 18! Here you can find more information on the Ventura Parade of Lights: https://www.venturaharborvillage.com/parade-of-lights/

If you miss these this year, be sure to catch one or more of them next year! 

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SBnSB Dec 16, 2021 08:10 AM
Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

Great photos! My family loves this event. My only complaint is how far away the boats were on our side. It would be so much better if they could get closer on the Harbor side of the wharf. They come in close on the Sea Center side where we usually watch. This year we were on the Harbor side and it was packed with families excited to see the boat parade, and it's also where all the restaurants are, so you'd think they'd have the boats pass by close there too for everyone to see. But on that side the boats are forced to stay pretty far away. Everyone had to strain to make out the decorations on the boats, and our pictures weren't very good because the boats were too far away. At least we had a great spot for the fireworks!

sbrobert Dec 16, 2021 05:28 PM
Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

The boats are too far away most of the time. I agree, SBNSB. It seems that some of the boats only have decorations on their starboard (right) sides. If they were to come around the other side of Stearn's Wharf that would have to be taken into account. They could continue past the end of the Wharf and hug it for a bit before heading back to the Harbor. Not sure how deep the water is there.

Not sure how many people watch the parade from the shore along East Beach. If few people watch it there it might make more sense to make the parade more compact and not go so far east down the beach.

Thanks for the kind words ZEROHAWK and SBNSB! There is still a chance to catch the one in Ventura tomorrow and Saturday!

Harbor_Seal Dec 17, 2021 11:45 AM
Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

Great job on the photos and video Robert!!
Great job by the MC Dave Bacon!

Glad to see the parade returned! However, I was disappointed the Human Powered division happened in the daylight this year… most Human Powered folks didn’t put lights on their creations because it happened before sunset; also before the crowds arrived.

Online voting for the best entries seemed like a good idea vs. past years of having appointed judges, but it failed to capture a lot of the hard work by the contestants. The online photos were mediocre at best and some of the winners failed to embrace the theme… one of the paddle board winners put a pair of $1 antlers on her head and a sweater on her dog… who doesn’t love a good dog photo? But it was about the least amount of effort by a contestant and something we all see in the harbor on any given Sunday.

Bring back the judges!

ZeroHawk Dec 21, 2021 09:03 AM
Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

Ive never viewed it from the wharf. The breakwater and sandspit and sea landing is always a better spot to view IMO. Also, those boats know what they are doing, they are being safe. Bright lights can be seen far at sea in the dark, especially colored lights. I sail. I know. They can't come closer to the wharf over safety reasons and laws and regulations. I know...pee on the party, but it's like this for a reason. Sorry to over explain it...

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