Huntington Harbour Boat Parade a go, but traveling to see it is discouraged

The annual Huntington Harbour Boat Parade, seen here in 2018, will be held this weekend.
The 2020 Huntington Harbour Boat Parade, seen here in 2018, will be held this weekend, but officials are discouraging anyone from out of town to travel to watch the event.
(Raul Roa / Times Community News)

Although the coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on many holiday plans, one Christmas tradition will continue this weekend in Huntington Harbour.

The 58th annual Huntington Harbour Boat Parade will go on as scheduled in Huntington Beach, though the Cruise of Lights that would typically follow has been canceled for 2020.

The boat parade is usually offered as a thank you to Huntington Harbour residents for decorating their homes for the Cruise of Lights, a fundraiser for the Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s youth music education.


“Nobody’s going to buy tickets to see a bunch of dark homes,” Philharmonic public relations chair Lara Anderson said. “Even though we can’t do the Cruise of Lights because of COVID-19, the volunteers decided to go forward and continue the tradition of the parade.”

Roughly 240,000 Californians have tested positive for the virus in the last 14 days, and about 112 have died of COVID-19 each day over the last week.

Dec. 8, 2020

There are 70 boats signed up and the parade runs Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Officials said people from out of town are discouraged from visiting the parade route in person but can watch a livestream on the group’s Facebook page Saturday night. Those interested can also track the parade route.

“We strongly discourage anyone coming from outside the area [to watch]. It’s nothing we publicize because it’s really by locals, for locals. The harbor is a very small public area, and it’s largely residential,” Anderson said.

The 70 boats enrolled in this year’s parade is more than usual, at least partially because Huntington Harbour residents won’t be hosting boat parade parties over the weekend, Anderson said. The event is considered safe because social distancing can be maintained on boats, she added.

“It’s up to people to be personally responsible, but we are staying home,” she said. “This is our home. It’s important to keep the tradition going, even though it’s just for fun.”


Other cities, including Dana Point and neighboring Newport Beach, canceled their boat parades for 2020. Instead Newport Beach organizers put together an “official unofficial” parade, scheduled Dec. 17-19.

Szabo writes for Times Community News.