I love a parade. A boat parade, anyway.
During the holiday season, there are boat parades all up and down the California coast. I have been to the multi-day Newport Beach Boat Parade, the Marina del Rey Boat Parade and the intimate Redondo Beach Boat Parade.
And now that I’m living in San Diego, I wanted to check out the one here, which is called the San Diego Bay Parade Of Lights. This event takes place on two Sundays in December (Dec. 19 and 17 in 2022; starts at 5:30 p.m.) and I went on the first evening.
As the starting time of the parade approached, I made myself a concealed cocktail (a boat drink, of course) and made my way from the Gaslamp to the Embarcadero.
I could not convince any friends to join me because they partied too hard on Friday and Saturday nights – understandable, considering San Diego’s awesome weekend nightlife – so I was alone. On the short walk there through the Gaslamp Quarter, I realized THE place to be would be the Bali Hai, since the parade’s starting point is in Shelter Island.
Oh well, next time.
Still, it was a fairly festive scene: people were lined up against the edge of the water, many of whom were waving lights. I found myself a spot on the rocks with my feet nearly touching the bay.
Once comfortably settled I immediately realized I had failed to have proper advance preparation for the event. This is extremely rare for me because I always think ahead for every contingency and plan for it.
For instance, I was only wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt and a light PubClub.com fleece. Even tho it was warm earlier in the day, I knew better. Plus, I was at the edge of the water, so when the breeze picked up, I got a bit chilly.
I also failed to take into account that while the parade started at 5:30 p.m., it would take at least an hour for the boats to get to the Embarcadero from Shelter Island.
And that indeed proved to be the case, because about an hour later, the boats arrived on the scene.
I was impressed at how close the skippers brought their boats to the shore. Instead of staying way out where the Coronado ferry goes, they got close enough to the shore that they could almost hand you a cocktail.
You could easily hear the music some of the boats played and a really nice touch was the fact that most people on board greeted us with “Merry Christmas” chants. People on the shore – myself included – gave a “Merry Christmas” back to them. I’ve never experienced that at a boat parade and loved it.
Some of the boats were really decorated with lights and decorations from bow to stern. The most fun boat was a dingy that came by with people on board singing like drunken pirates. I was tempted to run into the bay and join them because I could tell those were my kind of people.
There was a good variety of boats, and I was a bit surprised to see most of them were power boats. That’s more of a Florida thing. Generally speaking, Californias prefer sailboats. At one point, I thought officials should rename the event the San Diego Bay Yacht Boat Parade because there were some massive vessels in the parade.
Overall, the parade was really quick. The caboose cruised by at 6:40 p.m. A news report indicated there were 80 boats entered in it. Perhaps it’s bigger the second week. At any rate, that was okay because at about 6:30 it began to sprinkle and by the end, it was raining. Yes, I know – rain in San Diego! That no doubt affected the turnout of boats.
After it was over, I was tempted to walk through Seaport Village. I had visions of it having cute girls in hot holiday outfits singing “Santa Baby,” but the rain put a damper on any of those thoughts.
Overall impressions? The San Diego Bay holiday boat Parade Of Lights was a good experience. It is definitely worth going to and I would like to see it at “full sail,” so to speak, with all the boats, good weather and – of course – fun friends.
Happy Holidays from PubClub.com!
San Diego Holiday Boat Parade Schedule
• 5:30 p.m. – Shelter Island (start of parade)
• 6:30 p.m. – Harbor Island
• 6:30 p.m. – The Embarcadero
• 7 p.m. – Seaport Village
• 7:15 p.m. – The Pier at Cesar Chavez Park
• 7:30 p.m. – Ferry Landing on Coronado
Note: Arrival times are approximate