Early LA Harbor Christmas festivals

On December 24, 1934, U.S. naval ships in San Pedro were transformed into a fairyland of giant trees and scenery for the annual Christmas fiesta. On December 25, 1934, Santa Claus traveled by seaplane between the ships in the Navy benefit for 1,500 low-income youngsters.

In December 1936, 4,000 children were guests at the Christmas benefit on Navy ships in  San Pedro harbor.

During the Christmas season in the 1950s and early 1960s, carolers would board decorated vessels and sing to crew members aboard ships moored throughout the harbor. In December 1962 a small group of boat owners decorated their boats and cruised through the Port’s Main Channel shouting holiday greetings to each other, and anyone along the waterfront.

The San Pedro Chamber of Community Development and Commerce adopted the tradition and formally organized the parade in 1963.

It was 1963

The first official LA Harbor ‘Christmas Afloat’ parade was held on Sunday, December 23, 1963, sponsored by the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and promoted by the Port of Los Angeles. An estimated 40,000 people came to see 57 boats competing for awards.

Master Sergeant Silas Bass presided as parade commodore. Officers from Fort MacArthur and the US Coast Guard aboard the Angels Gate tug judged the entries in the East Basin. Awards, that included a 5 1/2-foot-tall Sweepstakes Trophy was presented in a special ceremony aboard the Sierra Nevada ferry boat at Ports ‘O Call prior to the start of the parade. 

From 1964 until 1978 the SP Chamber and the Port of LA co-sponsored the parade. 25,000 – 50,000 spectators viewed the parade from both sides of the Main Channel.

The parade began in the East Basin, traveled up the Main Channel to the San Pedro Fishermen’s Slip at berth 73 and back, ending at the Vincent Thomas Bridge.  Media referred to the parade as the San Pedro Christmas boat parade. USCG assist vessels that accompanied the parade were referred to as ‘mother hens.’

Decorated vessels were judged in categories of individually decorated, group decorated and commercial with the Sweepstakes trophy awarded to best overall.

It was 1964

The 2nd annual Christmas Afloat parade held December 18, 1964, began at 7 PM in drizzling rain with 50 boats competing for awards. Manny Louis served as a parade committee chair. Guest commodores of the parade were TV personalities Tom Frandsen, Stan Chambers, Miss Sally, and Gene Majors. Judging was conducted in the East Basin by top-ranking US Military officers aboard the Angels Gate tug at 4:30 PM.

The San Pedro Yacht Club’s Spy Queen, (formerly the Dolphin) side paddle-wheeler, adorned with 2000 multi-colored lights and carrying the queen of the Los Angeles All-City Employees Assoc and her court, won the Grand Sweepstakes Trophy. First Place went to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 46 four-boat entry, Santa’s sleigh pulled by reindeers mounted on three skiffs with outboards. The Ramona, a former 60-foot luxury yacht converted to a trash scow owned by the H-10 Water Taxi Company took Second Place.

It was 1965

The December 16, 1965 parade began at 7 PM, preceded at 4 PM by a sea-air search and rescue demonstration conducted by the US Coast Guard in front of Ports O’ Call Village. Fire Boat 4 led the parade with a lighted, multi-colored water display.

Tom Frandsen, KNBC TV personality was a parade, Grand Marshal. Johnny Grant, TV and radio personality served as parade emcee and narrator for a 12-minute film produced by OZ Productions of Hollywood. The film included trophy-winning skippers,  US Military officers from the Army, Air Force, Navy and USCG, and celebrity guests. Filming was conducted at a viewing stand between Norm’s Landing and the Bay of Naples Restaurant on the San Pedro waterfront.

It was 1966

On December 17, 1966, the festivities began at 4 PM with a Coast Guard demonstration of search and rescue techniques followed by a concert by Fort MacArthur’s 72nd US Army Band. Carleton Young, popular star of stage, screen, and television hosted the dockside activities conducted between Norm’s Landing and Ports of ‘Call Village.

Aboard the Port’s 42-foot Angelena, Grand Marshal Pietro DiCarlo, Port of LA Harbor Commission President led a parade of more than 50 decorated boats. The SS Princess Louise joined the procession carrying passengers who had paid $2 a ticket for a one-hour ride.

A panel of five top-ranking Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard officers served as judges. First, Second and Third Place awards were presented for group-decorated, city and community-decorated, and owner-sponsored entries 20-29 feet, 30-39 feet, and over 40 feet.

It was 1967

On December 16, 1967, Fort MacArthur’s 72nd Army Band presented a special one-hour dockside Yuletide concert at the viewing area just south of the Ferry Building prior to the 7 PM parade.

The 804-ft P&O Line luxury passenger liner SS Oriana, adorned with Christmas lights and decorations led the parade as it departed for Honolulu and Australia. Second in the lineup was the Angelena carrying Grand Marshal Eleanor Chambers, City of LA Deputy Mayor.

It was 1968

In 1968 the Port of LA and SP Chamber co-sponsored a 45-foot float in the Hollywood Santa Claus Lane Parade of Stars, the Huntington Park Christmas Lane Parade, and Inglewood Christmas Holiday Parade inviting the public to view the Christmas Afloat boat parade. The float won a first and second-place award in two of the three parades. Taul Watanabe, Port of LA Harbor Commission President presided as Grand Marshal of the December 21, 1968 parade. An estimated 30,000 spectators lined the west and east side of the Main Channel from the Matson docks to the pilot station at the end of Miner Street, between the ferry building and Ports ‘O Call Village, and in a viewing area just south of the Rum Runner Restaurant.

The SS Princess Louise was berthed next to the old Terminal Island Ferry Building and decorated from bow to stern with flashing lights.

The Sweepstakes Award went to the Ramona. 1st Place in the Commercial category went to the Trujack owned by Jack Ewing and entered by the Pacific Telephone Co.

In 1969 the parade committee introduced a symbol to represent the Christmas Afloat Parade that has been adopted by every parade committee since.

Port of LA Harbor Commission Presidents served as Grand Marshals in the December 20, 1969, and December 19, 1970 parades, Robert A. Day in 1969 and Frank C. Sullivan in 1970.

An estimated 40,000 spectators lined both sides of the Port’s Main Channel during the December 18, 1971 parade led by Grand Marshal Dominic J. Comparisi, SP Chamber of Commerce President who was accompanied by Harbor Commissioners Frank Sullivan and Manuel Inadomi, and Harbor General Manager Bernard J. Caughlin aboard the Angelena.

Also in the parade was the SS Princess Louise carrying 225 passengers who had paid $2 a ticket for the one-hour ride, and the Buccaneer Queen, a 105-ft barque owned by Gary Narvaez and sponsored by the Ports ‘O Call Merchants and March of Dimes.

Among the entries was the Minx, a US Naval Reserve Yacht owned by Commander James Tolin, that carried 25 relatives of POW’s and MIA’s from the LA, Harbor and South Bay areas as a tribute to nearly 1,700 US servicemen who were prisoners of war or missing in action. Harbor Commission President John Kilroy, Grand Marshal along with fellow Commissioners John Chu, John Royal, Frank Sullivan, Manual Inadomi, Harbor Dept General Manager Bernard Caughlin and visiting dignitaries led the December 16, 1972 parade aboard the Angelena. The parade also featured the SS Princess Louis and Mansion Belle that each carried 225 passengers, two tugboats, four USCG cutters, several committee boats, and 33 pleasure craft. At the end of the parade, the LAFD’s Ralph J. Scott gave spectators a dazzling water display. An estimated 50,000 spectators viewed the parade from both sides of the Main Channel.

Sailboats were added as a separate awards category. Among the entries was the Highland Light, a 75-foot sailing cutter built-in 1931 that was recognized as a trans-Atlantic racing champion in the 1930s and ’40s and the Scorpion, a Chinese junk. Winners, chosen prior to the start of the parade were announced over loudspeakers along the San Pedro waterfront as boats passed by.

The day before the parade, 320 sailors aboard the Navasota, a 600-foot Navy ship in dry dock at the Bethlehem shipyard on Terminal Island, decorated the ship with a 50-foot-high Christmas tree made of red and green lights and strung 100 light bulbs along the hull.

In October 1973, Andy Wall, president of Al Larson Boat Shop submitted the first entry, the Taisu Maru, a colorful 32-ft Japanese sampan he bought for $400 from a Dutch freighter line that had found it adrift about 500 miles off the Japanese coast. The SS Princess Louise, Mansion Belle, Shearwater and the Starwere scheduled to carry a total of 748 passengers through the parade for $3 a person. Parade committee chair Frank Corsentino said the committee had received enough reservations to fill two of the four chartered boats. On November 28th, the parade was canceled in keeping with the wishes of President Richard Nixon and LA Mayor Tom Bradley who urged owners and users of fuel-consuming pleasure or sporting vehicles to cut back on the use of fuel until the current energy crisis had subsided.

From 1974 to 1978

Co-Grand Marshals of 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978 parades were the presidents of the Harbor Commission and the San Pedro Chamber – Harbor Commissioners Frederick A. Heim, Roy S. Ferkick, Nick DiBiasi (twice) and Gene Kaplan. From the San Pedro Chamber were Don Lorenz, Jack Pearson, John A. Ritchie, Curt Higgins, and Bob Bershad.

Due to the cold wind and threat of rain on December 13, 1975, fewer than the anticipated 50,000 spectators turned out at vantage points along the waterfront on both sides of the channel that included a newly paved terminal north of the Princess Louise Restaurant on Terminal Island. The 110-foot Theresa won Sweepstakes.

First Place winners included Dragnet II, entered by Sea Explorer Scout Unit 727 of the Harbor Area, the Malolo, entered by the Sea Scout Explorer Base in Long Beach, and the Yankee tug, owned by Todd Shipyard.  The Grand Marshals of the December 12, 1976 parade, along with invited dignitaries rode aboard the Angelena, followed by 28 lighted vessels vying for trophies, the LAFD’s fireboat Ralph J. Scott, Angels Gate tug, the Coast Guard and Port Warden marshal boats, the Buccaneer Queen, Lani Kai, Lula Kai, Swift of Ipswich, and volunteer vessels that served as category lead boats. Sweepstakes winner was a 32-foot motor-sailer, Tiki, decorated by the Scouts from Explorer Ship 243 and bedecked with grass-skirted Polynesian and fire dancers.

It was 1979

In 1979 the SP Chamber refocused their activities toward promoting business and discontinued parade sponsorship. The Port established an LA Harbor Christmas Afloat Committee comprised of community members, boat owners, and sponsors, and became the sustaining sponsor of the annual parade.

Entries were judged based on the type and length of the vessel, and by categories of individually or group-decorated and commercial. Trophies, cash, and merchandise prizes were awarded for First, Second and Third place winners. The parade route was extended to include the Cabrillo Beach area where it ended.

Grand Marshals of the December 8, 1979 parade were the President of the LA Harbor Commission and Miss Port of Los Angeles.

The Port provided $1200 for cash awards and $300 for plaques. In addition to other expenses, the parade committee spent $35.25 to mail 235 donation request letters. ($.15 a stamp)

The Carita, a 65-ft ketch owned by Dorothy and William Meier won the Sweepstakes with an entry that included a robed choir of 48 friends who pantomimed Christmas songs recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The LAFD’s Ralph J. Scott took 1st place in the Commercial category.

It was the 1980’s

On December 13, 1980, after waiting for more than a half-hour beyond the 7 PM start time for the cruise ship Pacific Princess (also known as the ‘Love Boat’) to depart, a dense fog rolled in and the parade had to be cut short after passing the Ports O’ Call area. The Wild Goose and a privately-owned yacht originally built for James Cagney, used in the filming of ‘The Wake of the Red Witch,’ were docked next to the new LA Maritime Museum.

44 official parade entries representing more than two dozen So Cal communities competed for nearly $2000 in cash, trophies and other prizes in the December 12, 1981parade.  Along with the waterfront music from a dance band on the Wild Goose that had been chartered for the festivities greeted parade boats as they passed.

Aboard the Donna-L, Bert Harrington, former owner of Cabrillo Boat Shop exchanged wedding vows with Shirley Irene Kaberline as the entries circled the judges’ boat in the West Basin prior to the start of the parade.

The Port of LA hosted Grand Marshal, 15th District Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores aboard the Harbor Department’s Angelena on December 11, 1982, and the 1983 parades.

Creative Endeavor, owned by parade chairman Jeff Wilkes led the December 10, 1983 procession of decorated vessels. Parade boats competed for trophies and cash awards of more than $1200, two sweepstakes prizes – a portable electronic organ donated by Baldwin Piano and Organ Co. worth $475 to be awarded in the individually-decorated categories, and a $300 cash award for the best organization or commercial entry.

The Angelena, following the departing Pacific Princess, led the December 8, 1984 parade of more than 30 lighted entries. Among the entries were Southwest Marine’s 48-foot launch SWM Spirit, Ports O’ Call Sport Fishing’s 98-foot Sunstar charter boat, PacTow’s 93-foot Pacific tractor tug and LAFD’s 100-foot Ralph J. Scott.

In addition to trophies and prizes totaling more than $1200, the Sweepstakes prize for individually-decorated categories was the weekend use of a motorhome from Altman’s R.V. in Carson and a $100 gift certificate from Dave Stoll’s Marine Center for the best-decorated first-time entrant.

The Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club won a $200 Sweepstakes prize and First Place in the group-decorated category with a small carousel of ponies circling the main boat of a six-boat entry. The Tesoro, owned by Rand Beardslee, followed by the Grand Mariner with the Dana Junior High School advanced choir aboard, led the December 14, 1985 parade of more than 40 decorated vessels. Among the entries was the Southwind, owned by Vlad Wortko, a 53-foot powerboat better known as the ‘Riptide’ in the television series of the same name. Judging was conducted at 5:40 PM in the West Basin. Boats were required to be decorated on both sides and points were given for originality, creativity, work involved in decorations, and how well the decorations held up in the parade.

The panel of judges in the December 13, 1986 parade included Superior Court Judge Sid Cherniss, Bill Lowery of the Seamen’s Church Institute, Mearl Ellison of Thermal Art, Chris Muller of Muller Marine, and Sally Ornella of Mike’s Marine. The Sea Watch, a 65-foot powerboat owned by S.T. Kelly, decorated by the Marine Technology Society took top honors in the Sweepstakes categories of group-decorated and commercial.

The festively decorated fireboat, Ralph J. Scott led the December 12, 1987 parade of more than 50 lighted boats.

A refundable deposit for entry number pennants was required and prizes for the best-decorated entries were awarded in six categories and two sweepstakes in the individually-decorated categories. Sweepstakes winners were the Lady Constance, owned by Ed and Connie Clark and the Sea Dream, owned by Nigel and Patty Thompson.

In 1988 the Port purchased the 73-foot Angelena II, which led the December 10, 1988 parade. Joining the parade was the 180-foot Coast Guard cutter Conifer and the 88-foot schooner Lady Ada.

On December 9, 1989, San Pedro’s two new dining/tour vessels, the 600-passenger Spirit of Los Angeles and the California Hornblower led a parade of more than 40 boats competing for awards in six categories and theme, ‘Christmas Around the World.’ Passengers boarded the tour vessels at the former site of the SS Princess Louise that had capsized at a Terminal Island shipyard on October 31. Until 1987, Princess Louise hosted many of the annual LA Harbor boat parade awards banquets.

It was the 1990’s

The parade began at the Vincent Thomas Bridge, traveled up the Main Channel to the Port Pilot’s Station and back to the bridge where it ended. All spectator viewing areas were along the west side of the Main Channel from Ports O’ Call to Warehouse 1. The sailboat, Papagayo, individually-decorated and owned by Douglas Thompson and the 41-foot trawler, Shooting Star, owned by Frank Dair and group-decorated by members of the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club won Sweepstakes and First Place category awards in the December 8, 1990 parade.

In the December 7, 1991 parade, Sweepstakes winner in the category of private powerboats and sailboats was School’s Out, owned by Neil and Margo Alderman. Jet Cat, entered by Catalina Express won sweepstakes awards in the category of the group and commercial vessels and Best First-time Entry. Beginning in 1992 the parade route was expanded to include the Cerritos Channel marinas and the Cabrillo marinas in the Port’s Outer Harbor where the parade ended. Four boat owners who had small skiffs were recruited to serve as ‘wet ducks.’ The skiffs were equipped with flashing lights and positioned along the parade route to guide the parade at turning locations.

From 1992 to 1997 the parade was a two-day event and the parade route included the Consolidated Slip in the Port’s East Basin. Boaters competed in five categories that included Theme, Traditional, Whimsical/Humorous, Musical and Commercial/Group. Judging stations were located along the parade route at the Matson Terminal, Berth 206-209, Distribution and Auto Services (DAS) terminal, Berth 195-199,  Ports O’ Call Village, 22ndStreet Landing Grill and Bar, and at the LA Maritime Museum where a group of Harbor area students chose their favorite entrant. At the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce building at Banning’s Landing, a local service organization sold hot chocolate to residents that lined the waterfront there. In San Pedro, the Ports O’ Call Restaurant, Acapulco Mexican Restaurant, Whiskey Joe’s and 22nd Street Landing were booked to capacity for the two-day event.

Entries were judged on Saturday, the winners announced Sunday morning, and on Sunday evening winning entries carried banners depicting the category in which they won.

Receptacles for canned foods for the Los Angeles Food Bank were placed at various viewing locations along the December 13-14, 1992 parade route. Collections were distributed to more than 644 centers in the LA area.

On December 11 and 12, 1993 the S.S. Lane Victory, a restored World War II cargo ship that also served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, adorned with Christmas lights, reindeer and cargo boxes decorated to look like giant gift packages led the parade. Aboard the ships were Mayors and other city officials from at least a dozen area communities. Festivities included musicians, singers, a ventriloquist, Santa Claus and gifts for the children aboard from the Make A Wish Foundation and Toberman Settlement House.

Grand Marshals were the cast from ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ Jerry Mathers, Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsly, and Ken Osmond. The parade theme was, ‘Treasures of Christmas.’

The San Pedro Yacht Club began the tradition of awarding a perpetual Challenge Cup to the yacht club with the most entries in the parade, which was presented to the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club following the parade. Buddy Ebsen presided as Grand Marshal of the December 10-11, 1994 parade. The parade theme was ‘Harbor Lights’ and the San Pedro Yacht Club took the Perpetual Trophy.

The theme of the December 9-10, 1995 parade was ‘Santa’s Fanta-sea.’ Winner of the Perpetual Trophy was the Long Beach Singles Sailing Association.

Grand Marshal Johnny Mountain, KABC TV led the December 14-15, 1996 parade with the theme of ‘Santa’s Magical Harbor.’ The Nessie-Jo, owned by Roger West and Warren Burnette of Sherman Oaks, won three awards: the Students’ Choice Award sweepstakes, Distribution, and Auto Services Award for favorite noncommercial powerboat, and first place in the whimsical/humorous powerboats category.

The Perpetual Trophy went to the San Pedro Yacht Club. Participating in the December 13-14, 1997 parade, themed ‘Santa’s Floating into Town’ were three tall ships, the Hawaiian Chieftain, a 103-feet-long topsail ketch based in Sausalito, the Lady Washington, a 105-feet-long two-masted brig from Aberdeen, Washington, and the Swift of Ipswich, a 90-feet-long topsail schooner based at the LA Maritime Museum. The Perpetual Trophy went to the San Pedro Yacht Club.

In 1998 the parade reverted to a one-night event and the Consolidated Slip was dropped from the parade route due to consistently strong currents and narrow channels.

Joe Amalfitano, former LA Dodgers coach and 44-year professional ballplayer presided over the December 12, 1998 parade with the theme, ‘Jingle Boat Rock.’ The Long Beach Singles Sailing Association took the Perpetual Trophy.

The December 11, 1999 boat parade was sponsored by the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club and the Los Angeles Yacht Club. The parade route included the Ports O’ Call and Cabrillo marinas areas.

It was the 2000’s

The San Pedro Yacht Club, along with South Bay Shriners Club, Long Beach Singles Sailing Association, Hurricane Gulch Yacht Club and Hollywood Yacht Club sponsored the parades of December 9, 2000, with the theme ‘Boats in Toyland’ and December 8, 2001, themed ‘America the Beautiful. The parades were also held as a benefit with proceeds from entry fees and toy collections donated to the St. Francis Medical Center Children’s Center and the Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children, which started the tradition of the annual boat parade charity fundraiser and toy drive. There were no Grand Marshals during those years and skippers chose the categories in which they were competing. The Perpetual Trophy went to the San Pedro Yacht Club both years.

In 2002 an independent parade committee was established by the nonprofit Pacific Unicomm Corp with the Port of LA as the major sponsor and co-sponsored by LA and LB yacht clubs. The parade name was changed to LA Harbor Holiday Afloat. The parade date was established as the first Saturday in December and as a toy drive and fundraising event to assist harbor area youth organizations and nonprofits with their holiday events. The newly completed Banning’s Landing Community Center in slip 8 was added to the parade route where the parade has been judged, viewed and filmed since 2002.

First, second and third place trophies are awarded in the categories of Traditional, Theme, Humorous, Commercial, Ancient Mariner and Classic Craft (the latter two since replaced by Holiday Spirit and Best Animation). Top awards include the Grand Marshal’s Award, Children’s Choice and Most Original.

L.A. Mayor James Hahn served as Grand Marshal with 15th District Councilwoman Janice Hahn as Commodore of the Fleet in the December 7, 2002 parade. The Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson, the LA Maritime Institute’s new 100-feet-long twin brigantines joined the parade. Built-in San Pedro for the TopSail Youth Program the vessels and their crews are the official Tall Ships and Maritime Ambassadors of the City of Los Angeles. The parade theme was ‘Angels Afloat’ and the Perpetual Trophy went to the San Pedro Yacht Club.

15th District Councilwoman Janice Hahn presided as Commodore of the Fleet in the December 6, 2003 parade with Grand Marshals, Wilmington Honorary Mayor Cecilia Moreno and San Pedro Honorary Mayor Jennifer Zivkovic. The theme was ‘Joy to the World’ and the Long Beach Singles Sailing Assoc took the Perpetual Trophy.

From 2004 until 2009 the route included the channel at the new Cruise Ship Plaza in San Pedro but was dropped from the route in 2010 as the channel was too narrow for larger vessels.

Grand Marshal 15th District Councilwoman Janice Hahn led the December 4, 2004parade with the theme ‘Harbor Lights.’ The LAFD’s new Fireboat No. 2, Warner L. Lawrence participated as one of the lead vessels. Cash prizes were awarded to the top three winning entries and the Perpetual Trophy went to the Long Beach Singles Sailing Assoc.

Three judging stations were established along the parade route at Banning’s Landing, SS Lane Victory, that hosted children from the LA KIDS Rec & Parks program and the Children’s Choice Award judging station, and the LA Maritime Museum, which has since moved to the adjacent Port Police Marine dock.

The December 3, 2005 parade, themed ‘Holiday Magic’ was led by Commodore of the Fleet, 15th District Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Grand Marshals, Margaret Hernandez and Andrew Silber. The Perpetual Trophy went to the Long Beach Singles Sailing Assoc.

Commodore of the Fleet, 15th District Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Grand Marshal, Wilmington Honorary Mayor Mary Gutierrez presided over the December 2, 2006parade with the theme ‘Boats in Toyland.’ The Long Beach Singles Sailing Assoc took the Perpetual Trophy.

Since 2006 pre-parade events have included a Holiday Boutique and other festivities at the Banning’s Landing Community Center and beginning in 2011 a Wilmington Winter Wonderland with 20 tons of snow at the new Wilmington Waterfront Park, courtesy of the Port of LA.

Garth Kemp of ABC Channel 7 News presided as Grand Marshal in the December 1, 2007 parade with the theme ‘An Old Fashioned Holiday.’ The Perpetual Trophy went to the Long Beach Singles Yacht Club.

In 2008 the new Gateway Plaza Fanfare Fountain at the entrance to the World Cruise Center opened, offering spectators a spectacular post-parade water show synchronized to holiday songs and lights.

Port of LA Harbor Commission Vice President, Jerilyn López Mendoza presided as Grand Marshal of the December 6, 2008 parade with the theme ‘Crusin’ Into the Holidays.’ The Perpetual Trophy went to the Long Beach Singles Yacht Club.

It’s Millennial Time!

In 2009 and 2010 the parade committee joined with the Port of LA Port Police Association and Gang Alternatives Program to provide a special toy and food giveaway at Banning’s Landing to brighten the holidays of our less fortunate harbor area families. Also in 2010, a fourth judging station was added at the end of the parade route along the fairway in the Cabrillo marinas.

Grand Marshal of the December 5, 2009 parade was Cecilia Moreno, recognized by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as ‘City of LA Volunteer of the Year.’ The parade theme was ‘Deck the Hulls,’ with the Perpetual Trophy going to the Long Beach Singles Yacht Club.

USCG Captain of the Port, Roger Laferriere led the December 4, 2010 parade, themed ‘Peace on Earth.’ The Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club won the Perpetual Trophy.

With a patriotic theme of ‘Home for the Holidays,’ Grand Marshals Mike and Shirley Walker, directors of the nonprofit San Pedro Packages for Patriots led the December 3, 2011 parade aboard the Irving Johnson. The all-volunteer organization has shipped thousands of care packages containing letters and comfort items to men and women in all branches of the service deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Perpetual Trophy went to the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club. In 2012, the parade committee celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the LA Harbor Holiday Afloat parade with the theme ’50 Golden Years of Holiday Lights.’ SouthBayNetwork.com created the official LA Harbor Holiday Afloat website.

Grand Marshal Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino presided over the December 1, 2012 parade aboard the M/V Kristina, an 85-foot, 150-passenger vessel owned by the Harbor Breeze Corporation in Long Beach.  At the lead was the new 65-foot Port Police dive boat, an aluminum hydrofoil-assisted catamaran equipped for dive and sonar missions, built by All American Marine in 2012.

The Battleship IOWA, an interactive naval museum that opened to the public on July 7th hosted the Children’s Choice Award judging station. Built-in 1940, the USS IOWA, known as the ‘Battleship of the Presidents,’ served our country in WWII and the Korean Conflict. To commemorate the parade’s 50th anniversary, Bill Orton, District Representative for Senator Roderick Wright presented a legislative proclamation to the parade committee. The Perpetual Trophy went to the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club.

Other 50th Anniversaries celebrated in 2012 were the Vincent Thomas Bridge, Ports O’ Call Village, SA Recycling and LAFD Fire Boat 4, the Bethel F. Gifford.

Grand Marshal, 35th District Senator Roderick Wright presided over the December 7, 2013, themed ‘Holidays Around the World’, aboard the M/V Triumphant, an 83-foot, high tech, eco-friendly, hydrofoil catamaran owned by Dan Salas, Harbor Breeze Cruises in Long Beach. The Triumphant was built in Bellingham, Washington and arrived at its homeport in Rainbow Harbor in July.

In the lineup was the Tole Mour, a 156-foot, three-masted topsail schooner owned by Guided Discoveries in Rainbow Harbor, Long Beach, LAMI’s Irving Johnson, and the Magic Dragon, a CT51 owned by Captain Morgan Griffin, equipped with 25 cannons and all the trappings of a pirate ship. The trio fired on the judging stations, engaged in a mock gun battle with each other then took on the IOWA, much to the delight of spectators throughout the harbor. Winner of the Perpetual Trophy in 2013 was the Long Beach Singles Yacht Club.

Gabriela Medina, Harbor City, and Wilmington Field Deputy for 15th District Councilman Joe Buscaino presided as Grand Marshal aboard the M/V Triumphant in the December 6, 2014 parade, themed ‘Holiday Treasures.’ As the parade reached the newly completed Downtown Harbor in San Pedro, Councilman Busciano kicked off the festivities there at the Port-sponsored ‘Holidays by the Sea’ event that drew about 2500 spectators.

The parade included 30 official entries representing five yacht clubs and ten marinas, at least 10 unofficial entries, 5 lead vessels, 2 dinner cruises, and Port Police and US Coast Guard Auxiliary assist vessels. The Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club took the Perpetual Trophy for the most entries.

The 53rd annual LA Harbor Holiday Afloat held on December 5, 2015, was a great success! Grand Marshal, Kelli Bernard, LA Deputy Mayor of Economic Development aboard the Irving Johnson and Commodore of the Fleet, Councilman Joe Busciano aboard the Kristina headed up the parade of 6 lead vessels, 33 official entries representing 7 yacht clubs and 11 marinas, 2 dinner cruises, and about 35 unofficial entries.

While a number of boaters had fun with the ‘Santa’s Minions’ theme, these little rascals interfered with the planning efforts right up until the start of the parade.

Prior to the start of the parade, an estimated 800 spectators enjoyed a Holiday Boutique at Banning’s Landing in Wilmington. In San Pedro, the Port-sponsored event, ‘Holidays by the Sea’ drew about 2500 spectators who enjoyed the festivities and a movie there. Thousands of others lined the waterfront at Ports O’ Call Village, aboard the Battleship IOWA and Lane Victory, at waterfront restaurants, marinas, and yacht clubs and aboard boats moored along the parade route.

Judges at 5 judging stations along the parade route included members, family, and friends of the Wilmington Lions and Rotary Clubs, YMCA, I Heart Wilmington, United Wilmington Youth Foundation, boaters at Cabrillo Way Marina and children from the Port of LA Boys & Girls Club aboard the IOWA.

Eighty people attended the Skippers’ Breakfast and Awards Presentation on Sunday, December 6th held at the Los Angeles Yacht Club where 23 awards were presented to skippers whose boats were deemed to best represent the holiday spirit by the judges.

The LA Harbor Holiday Afloat marks the beginning of the Holiday Season for San Pedro Bay boaters, the surrounding communities of Wilmington, San Pedro, and communities of the South Bay. Sponsored by Port of Los Angeles and local yacht clubs, the parade draws 1000’s of spectators to the LA waterfront on the first Saturday of December.