Newport Beach Boat Parade Canceled


Hayden MacDonald

Eastlake in Yorba Linda is decorated with incredible lights to ring in the holiday season.

Hayden MacDonald, Photojournalist

Due to the continued spread of COVID-19, the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce announced the cancellation of the annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Prior to its cancellation, the parade was scheduled to last from December 16th to the 20th. 

This year would have marked the 112th anniversary of the boat parade and the first time it has been canceled since World War ll. The boat parade was canceled from 1915-1919 due to the war. With this long-standing tradition, many local residents are urging for the continuance of the parade amidst the global pandemic. 

This event attracts thousands of spectators every year over a period of five nights. Usually, the parade consists of an opening party at Marina Park and a firework display on the closing night. These spectacles, along with the influx of people, would have made this event a hotbed for COVID-19 to spread.

Alysse Dodge (12) and her family had recently moved to Newport Beach earlier this year and had been attending the parade ever since she was a kid. She says Balboa island (the location of the parade) “is one of [her] favorite places to spend time with [her] family.” She was even invited to watch the parade from the Balboa Beach Yacht Club with some family friends which definitely would have been an incredible viewing location for the parade. Although she is saddened by the cancellation of the parade, she hopes “everyone stays safe and healthy so that the boat parade is even better next year!”

The boats themselves are hailed to be at least six feet apart protecting those taking part in the parade, but the main concern regards those who are spectating the event. As the parade attracts thousands of people, large crowds form near-prime viewing locations. These crowds increase the risk and spread of COVID-19 making the event unsafe. Although many argue that it is one’s own choice to take part in the event, public officials feel it necessary to protect the general public from participating in these high-risk events. 

This year the parade is officially canceled; however, many residents are still planning to take part in their own unofficial parade to keep the tradition alive. This undertaking has been made public which may still cause an influx of spectators to watch the unofficial event. With this in mind, the participants in this event may need to cancel their plans entirely in order to completely diminish the possibility of a local outbreak in the area. Although they are free to take part in this kind of event, their actions have greater consequences than they may understand. This alone may increase the spread of Coronavirus in Orange County which has recently returned to the state’s purple tier, the most severe tier. 

Other events are still taking place across Orange County for the holiday season including the boat parade’s sister event, the “Ring of Lights” which is a neighborhood display of lights by each house. Similar events take place all over Orange County including a local one in Brea near the Brea Sports Complex. Other alternatives include drive-in movies and viewing ginormous Christmas trees at local malls and town centers. These events are safer and decrease transmission with smaller crowds and the safety of being isolated in one’s car.