Look Out, Dave and Jay: Heeeere’s Ricky!
Jennifer Shumate was in a crowd of about 40 people on the end of a dock at Peninsula Point to watch the annual Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade.
“It’s kind of a tradition,” said Shumate, 23, who lives a few doors away with her 4-month-old daughter and 2 1/2-year-old son. “I want my kids to look forward to it every year.”
Next year, the Shumates will have to travel a lot farther to see the holiday spectacle. Facing complaints of dwindling crowds and beleaguered passengers on the 150 or so vessels in the three-hour parade, the sponsoring Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce plans to shorten the parade’s seven-day run to five and lop off 30 minutes by bypassing Lido Isle and Peninsula Point.
The proposal has stirred such an outcry that one parade official has resigned in disgust.
The disappointment was palpable as residents of Peninsula Point--the southernmost tip of Balboa Peninsula--watched the brightly lit Christmas flotilla pass their doorsteps for perhaps the last time.
“No boat parade down here next year!” a man on one of the boats called to the crowd through a bullhorn. “Call the mayor, man. I think it stinks. I live down here too.”
The crowd on the dock roared its approval.
Residents say that cutting them out of the parade route will cause traffic congestion in the remaining parking and viewing areas.
And they say it will rob their neighborhood of a colorful event that started in 1908 and has become part of their holiday festivities.
“I’d miss it,” said Douglas Pitts, 33, who has watched the parade each of the four years he has lived on the waterfront. “A lot of people down here have parties just to watch it,” he said.
Said Doug Rook of Huntington Beach, “This is the biggest social event of the year around here. . . . Why should these people be disenfranchised just because someone wants to get home earlier?”
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