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It’s a green one: Newport boat parade first-timers let the Grinch lead the way

The 61-foot yacht Rough Life is ready to cruise in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade with an inflatable Grinch on the bow.
(Courtesy of Cole Whitcher)

The Grinch doesn’t need a 39½-foot pole this week because he has a 61-foot yacht.

Rough Life, the boat Cole Whitcher co-owns with his father, Grant, will glow green the next five nights during the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, with an 8-foot-tall inflatable Grinch on the bow.

Whitcher bought Rough Life, a Viking Princess model, from San Diego and piloted it up the coast in May as a housewarming gift for his dad after his parents bought a home on Linda Isle.

Whitcher, who owns a construction company that specializes in erecting cellphone towers, said his dad grew up sailing and that he’s done a few offshore races himself. He recently took a sailing class at Orange Coast College with his mother, Jackie, whose love for the Grinch inspired the theme of the family’s boat parade entry.


Whitcher had watched the parade before in a Duffy boat but decided to join the procession this year in the new family craft. When his mom said she wanted a green boat among all the usual wintry blue and white lights, he wasn’t sure whether she was kidding. But he went with it, stringing green rope lights and swapping white light bulbs for green ones. He perched the Grinch in the place of honor.

The Whitchers aren’t eyeing an award for decor like many skippers in the parade. For their first parade as contestants, they’re just looking to lead the field in good cheer.

“That’s an award I think we’ll be able to give ourselves,” Whitcher said.

A dinner and auction Jan. 25 at Newport’s Fashion Island Hotel will honor the award winners from the boat parade and the companion Ring of Lights home decorating contest, plus raise money for next year’s parade.



What: Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday

Where: Newport Harbor. The procession starts at the southern end of Lido Isle. Free public viewing is available at Marina Park, 1600 W. Balboa Blvd., and various other places around the harbor.

Special event: An opening-night kickoff at Marina Park starts at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The family-friendly festival will include face painters, caricature artists, a Chargers football toss competition, food vendors and a live musical performance by the Young Americans. A fireworks show at the Newport Pier will precede the start of the parade.

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