NEWPORT BEACH : Boat Parade Looks for New Leadership
Newport Beach’s famed Character Boat Parade, a more than 30-year tradition in which boat owners have dressed up their vessels to resemble Scotch bottles and historic figures, is looking for new leadership since its sponsor considered ending the event.
This summer’s parade sparked little community interest, said officials with the Newport Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce, which helps organize the event.
“Maybe it’s just the slow economic time, maybe times have changed,” said Barbara de Boom, the chamber’s director of operations.
The annual event is actually sponsored by the Commodores Club, a group within the chamber whose members created the parade in 1960. That group met a few weeks ago and decided to drop the parade and then asked that residents and past participants decide what should happen.
Most agree the parade is nowhere near the extravaganza it was in its heyday during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Then, famed Orange County residents such as actor John Wayne had served as guests of honor at the event where dozens of boats and thousands of onlookers would gather at the harbor to watch the parade of boats.
In 1972, a special character parade was held later in the year as a fund-raiser for the Orange County Committee to Reelect the President. More than 100 boats paraded in honor of then-President Richard M. Nixon.