Thousands upon thousands of twinkling holiday lights will be adrift in an impressive watery display along Newport’s Yaquina Bay on December 2, as the 24th Annual Lighted Boat Parade spreads the seasonal cheer in a spectacular armada that day. About 15 boats will meander around the pristine bay, making a large loop around the bay, from the Coast Guard Station to the Embarcadero Resort and back, filling the nighttime coastal air with unique designs and lighting techniques.
The parade starts at dusk on that Saturday. 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. Occasionally, small launches are decorated and deployed by the NOAA Pacific Fleet, as their research vessels return for the winter with plans to sparkle as well.
This parade also has an element of audience participation.
“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 and Bering Sea crabber, started the event, in 1994, as a fun way to showcase boats from their harbor and raise some community dollars. They are backing up the Yaquina Bay Yacht Club, 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.
Newport Lighted Boat Parade video produce by Cody Cha
This year, another unique aspect is what ship is leading the parade. The US Coast Guard’s Victory is the oldest vessel in the Coast Guard still in active duty, built in 1956.
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. Ticket prices will include riding in the parade with hot cocoa and cookies. Prices will be announced soon, and these 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 2.