Newport Beach Christmas boat parade kicks off this week

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Boats in the annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade are lit with decorations as they move through through the night on Dec. 16, 2009 in Newport Beach.

An annual holiday tradition returns to Newport Beach this week when about 75 yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes – all decked out with Christmas lights and decorations – will make their way through Newport Harbor for the annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.

The nearly century-old parade shoves off Wednesday night and will run nightly through Sunday. This year’s theme is "Lights, Camera … Christmas."

There will be thousands of lights that turn the boats into holiday scenes. Some people spend thousands of dollars to deck out their boats.

That’s a far cry from the parade’s humble beginnings in 1908 when an Italian immigrant who had settled in the area used his gondola to led a group of eight canoes, lit by Japanese lanterns, though the harbor.

The parade is one of the most well known of several Christmas boat parades in Southern California.

Dana Point, Ventura and Huntington Harbour are among the other cities that host boat parades this time of year.

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