Bad Economy Hurt Boat Parade, Officials Say

Fewer boats participated in 2011, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

The ended with a bang of fireworks Sunday, but officials say the overall turnout was down from years past.

The number of festive boats dropped about 20 percent, from more than 100 in previous years to about 80 this December, despite the parade being touted as the in the nation by Yahoo! Travel. 

Spectators noticed the difference.

"I was surprised how soon the parade was over," said Lindsay Hodgins, who watched from the Balboa Bay Club on . "I think that was the shortest boat parade that I can remember."

Some boat owners blamed the lack of participation on the $25 registration fee and high cost of lighting and displays. Creating elaborate decorations and hiring a captain to maneuver the traffic in the bay can costs thousands of dollars. 

"The [parade] committee wants you to be in the parade all five nights, and I can't do that," said one Newport boat owner who dropped out three years ago and wanted to remain anonymous. "It's too expensive and I can't make it out there every night."

Chamber of Commerce officials insisted nightly participation is encouraged but not required.

"It's not mandatory," chamber President Richard Luehrs said. "There are many visitors who come to see the parade every year and we want to encourage [boat owners] to be in it each night. We could never repay them for the time and energy these boat owners put in."

Although Saturday and Sunday drew more boats than the first two nights, Luehrs said, overall participation was still down.

"The economic climate here has had its impact," Luehrs said. "There were over 100 registered boats in previous years." 

As a small token of appreciation to those who participated in the parade, an awards dinner and a champagne reception will be held Jan. 27.

Evelyne Huegi December 22, 2011 at 02:43 PM
We all thought it was fantastic . Short but great!! We loved it!!!
David B. December 23, 2011 at 01:14 AM
I actually disagree with the article. 1st night (& 2nd) are always less turn out than the weekend nights.... Dugh! The weather this year was great! I thoughts the boats looked great! And it's quality over quantity. It's always good times in Newport for their Parade! Thanks to all who put it on :-)
Marie Case December 23, 2011 at 04:19 PM
There is no other boat parade like ours - anywhere. The entire community should be proud to live in a city that comes together to make it happen. And, maybe next year and in the future, the media can assist with spreading some good words. Congrats to the committee, the Chamber of Commerce, the City, Harbor Patrol, Sheriff and all who made the Boat Parade successful again this year.
Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime December 23, 2011 at 08:30 PM
Marie, Patch has done several stories over the last two years promoting the Christmas Boat Parade in Newport Beach. This article reports what some spectators and the chamber president told Patch. I attended the parade the last two years, and must say I enjoy it more every year.
Marie Case December 23, 2011 at 08:58 PM
The stories are greatly appreciated, Nisha! Glad you enjoyed the Parade! Thank you for your support and maybe next year we can give you some 'insider' angles for some fun stories. We'll be in touch ...


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