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Old Glory Boat Parade to wave its flag again over Newport Harbor this summer

A boat from the Old Glory Boat Parade.
A boat from the Old Glory Boat Parade held in 2019. The parade went on last summer too, albeit to limited capacities.
(Courtesy of American Legion Yacht Club)

The American Legion Yacht Club wants to let freedom ring over Newport Harbor and they’re hoping this year’s spectators will be out in full force this upcoming Independence Day.

By Commodore Bruce Batcheller’s closest estimates, the parade originated some time in the 1950s and, at the time, was called the “Newport Harbor Character Boat Parade” and sponsored by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce. The American Legion Yacht Club then took over the event in 1992 and renamed the summer event the “Old Glory Boat Parade,” giving it a patriotic theme.

It follows a path around Newport Harbor similar to the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, which is organized by the chamber, and encourages boaters to deck out their vessels. The parade is held every July 4.

“In 2020, we felt the community was really desperate for some return to normalcy,” said Batcheller, explaining
that the organization approached the city to see if there was any way to conduct the parade last year and that they had managed to work it out. About 50 boats were out on the water in last summer to celebrate the theme of “Honoring Our Frontline Heroes.”

This year’s is “Let Freedom Ring,” an echo of the unofficial Christmas Boat Parade of last winter. Its grand marshal will be H.R. McMaster, who was a national security advisor for the Trump administration and served as a lieutenant general until May 2018.

“When we thought about a theme for this year, we kept coming back to this idea of ‘Let Freedom Ring’ because it’s symbolic of so many things. Mostly, the celebration of Independence Day for our country,” said Batcheller, “but also because we’re now out of the clutches of this pandemic that we’ve been in for the last 16 months.”

According to the page for sign-ups, about 16 participants have signed up but Batcheller said the organization anticipates that more people will sign up at the last minute. The American Legion Yacht Club will be accepting applications through the night of July 3.

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