Deepa Bharath On Dec. 12, the Catalina...

Deepa Bharath

On Dec. 12, the Catalina Flyer won't leave Newport Harbor.

That's because it will unfurl an evening of entertainment for

about 300 guests -- dinner, dancing, music and holiday cheer -- all

while cruising around the harbor.

The event, put up by the Balboa Merchant and Owner Assn., is the

annual fund-raiser for the group.

The ambience is "fun and festive," said Peggy Fort, marketing

consultant for the Balboa Village businesses.

"It's a great mix of residents and local merchants," she said.

"We're encouraging the public to join us. The more, the merrier."

The Catalina Flyer can normally seat about 500 people, but the

event will host 300.

"It's a great way to enjoy the lights on the harbor and is a good

preceding event before the boat parade," Fort said.

The event is also a nice opportunity for the merchants to get

together with the community to start the holidays, said Bob Black,

one of the owners of the Catalina Flyer. For several years now, Black

has donated the boat for the event -- proceeds of which benefit

Balboa businesses.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. The cruise itself will start at

about 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. Door prizes and raffle prizes, donated

by the merchants, will be handed out at the end of the evening.

The Flyer normally makes daily trips to Catalina. But beginning

Sunday till the day after Christmas, it will be out exclusively on

chartered trips.

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