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Newport’s scenic Yaquina Bay is the backdrop for the 21st annual Lighted Boat Parade, guaranteed to put anyone in the holiday spirit. Thousands and thousands of lights adorn dozens of boats, which make a large loop around the bay, from the Coast Guard Station to the Embarcadero Resort and back, showing off a variety of colorful designs
The parade begins today, Saturday, beginning at 5 pm and circles the bay ’til 6:30 pm. Boats will depart from various docks along the Bayfront and South Beach Marina on the south side and will leisurely circle the bay, from the Coast Guard Station to the Embarcadero. The NOAA Pacific Fleet again joins the festivities, as their research vessels return for the winter, with plans to hang some sparkle.
“There are lots of ways folks can enjoy the Lighted Boat Parade – decorating and entering their own boat; viewing from the piers along the shoreline or the many restaurants along the Bayfront” said Fran Mathews, co-owner of Marine Discovery Tours. “Of course, my favorite recommendation is to buy tickets and ride on one of the decorated boats.”
She and her husband, Don, a retired Oregon crabber, started the event in 1994 as a fun way to showcase boats from their harbor and raise some community dollars. They now enjoy supporting the Yaquina Bay Yacht Club and parade hosts with their enthusiastic team of sailors at the helm.
“It’s a feel good event for the boating community as we help raise funds for our local hospital, along with filling up shops and restaurants along the Bayfront,” Mathews said.
The decorating competition results in a variety of themes, lights, fireworks and even live music aboard the boats that surprise and delight the audience and judges each year. Prizes are awarded through generous donations from neighbors throughout the Newport community, including a hunting rifle as the grand prize, courtesy of Oregon Coast Bank.
Passenger licensed boats from Marine Discovery Tours and Newport Tradewinds have space available for guests, with all parade registration fees and ticket sales donated to the annual Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees event.
Tickets, including riding in the parade with hot cocoa and cookies, are $36 for adults and $18 for youth 13 – 4 (children, under three, are free) and can be purchased by calling 541-265-6200 or visiting Marine Discovery Tours at Anchor Pier, 345 SW Bay Blvd., on Newport’s Bayfront before 3 p.m. on December 6th.