The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is an annual event in South California where big or small boats decorated with colorful lights and ornaments sail in Newport Harbor during Holiday Season. This celebration started way back more than a century ago when John Scarpa, an Italian gondolier, organized the first lighting boat parade in July 4, 1908.
A year prior to the first parade, Scarpa brought the gondola-liked harbor trip in South California by bringing visitors along the Newport Bay via small boat decorated with lanterns. Scarpa mobilized other eight small boat operators to join the parade in 1908 led by his own gondola. The boat parade was held again in 1913 when it was known as Illuminated Water Parade. The most creative boat in the parade was recognized and awarded, then. In 1915, the simple celebration turned out to be a big celebration as approximately 40 boats joined the lighting parade while a ?Battle of Fireworks? and underwater mines purposively exploded. In between World War I and II, the lighting boat parade was known as Tournament of Lights. It was held annually attracting many local and foreign visitors until the government shut down the event which, according to the authorities, was causing heavy traffic and congestion in the bay.
After the celebration was halted, the Newport Beach City employees decorated a barge with Christmas lights and lanterns. During that time, Joseph Beek, Scarpa?s partner in the first lighting boat parade, decorated also their family?s ferry boat and let it sailed once again in Christmas Season. From then on, it became a tradition to celebrate the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.
Today, it is an annual event where thousands of people from all over the nations seek to witness. The New Port Harbor is open for free during the week-long celebration while there are hotels, restaurants, and cafe along the bay which offer great deal of meals while watching the spectacular lights of yachts, canoes, kayaks, and small boats sailing in the Newport Harbor.
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