NEWPORT BEACH — The Balboa Fun Zone was in full gear Wednesday during the first night of the 102nd annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.
Families munched on pizza, hot pretzels and bundled under fleece blankets as they enjoyed the annual waterfront parade.
Capt. Mike Whitehead, a former Daily Pilot columnist, serves as emcee. Each night, he is situated right by the carousel and gives viewers a little background on the passing boats.
The parade started with a number of dazzling, decorated yachts. McKinna Yachts began the procession, and a whimsical, multicolored Charlie Brown-decorated boat followed soon after. The boat bore the name Asco in lights and had polar bears and trees of vibrant, neon hues alongside Snoopy's gang.
"If you don't see Charlie Brown's Christmas, it's not Christmastime," Whitehead said over the microphone.
The boat Time Out was made into a lit Christmas tree, complete with colorful, dangling ornaments. The Last Hurrah, with live entertainment on board, was decorated to look like an enchanted castle.
Smaller boats did the job as well, decked out from head to toe — or bow to stern — with lights and inflatable snowmen. Some sailors donned Santa suits and let out a hearty "ho ho ho" as they passed the spectators enjoying the parade from the Balboa Peninsula.
"For the first night of the parade, this is a pretty good turnout," Whitehead said.
Gale and Chuck Enger drove all the way from San Diego to see the spectacle. They're also planning to do a tour of the Ring of Lights homes.
"I love seeing all the lights and listening to the music," Chuck Enger said.
Karim Gonzalez, of Moreno Valley, made the trek as well.
"I heard an ad on the radio. It sounded like a good idea, and I thought I'd bring my daughters," he said.
When asked for her opinion, Gonzalez' daughter, 7-year-old Yazira, responded: "I think it was pretty good. I like the one with the castle."
The boat parade continues through Sunday. On the last night, fireworks will go off at 9:30 p.m. at the Balboa Pier.