25th Annual Lighted Boat Parade to benefit the Pacific Communities Health District Foundation

Lighted boats float along the Yaquina Bay during the 2018 Lighted Boat Parade, the 24th annual occurrence of the Newport tradition. (News-Times file photos)

Newport’s scenic Yaquina Bay is the backdrop for the 25th annual Lighted Boat Parade, guaranteed to put anyone in the holiday spirit. Thousands of lights adorn sparkling boats, showing off a variety of colorful designs.

Be prepared for a variety of decorating themes. Over the years, this has included fireworks, live music aboard and Santa surfing on a decorated surfboard.

The parade takes place on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 5-6:30 p.m. Boats will depart from various docks along the Bayfront, gliding leisurely around the bay, from the Coast Guard Station to the Embarcadero.

The Lighted Boat Parade features a variety of watercraft, from Coast Guard search & rescue vessels, excursion, and sportfishing boats, research vessels, sailboats, sea kayaks, to surfboards.

“There are lots of ways folks can enjoy the Lighted Boat Parade — decorating and entering their own boat; viewing from the piers along the shoreline or in the many restaurants along the Bayfront,” said Fran Mathews, owner of Marine Discovery Tours. “Of course, my favorite recommendation is to buy tickets, bundle up and ride on one of the decorated boats — so much fun!”

She and her husband, the late Captain Don Mathews, started the event in 1994 as a fun way to showcase boats from their harbor and raise some community dollars. They’ve been enthusiastically joined by the Yaquina Bay Yacht Club, Newport Tradewinds and a variety of boating teams through the years.

“It’s a feel-good event for the boating community — we help raise funds for projects earmarked that benefit our Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital, along with filling up the shops and restaurants along the Bayfront,” Mathews said.

To date, Marine Discovery Tours has collected over $40,000 in donations from the generosity of the boater’s registration fees and guest ticket sales.

The Lighted Boat Parade teams will combine their fundraising efforts this year with Thompson’s Sanitary Service, who hosts the local CAN Cancer program. This program helps cover non-medical living expenses for people fighting all forms of cancer. For more information or to make direct donations, contact the Pacific Communities Health District Foundation at [email protected] or 541-574-4912.

Marine Discovery Tours and Newport Tradewinds currently have space available for guests at $35 for adults and $15 for youth, ages 4-13 (children under three are free). Reservations include tickets to ride in the parade and refreshments — cookies donated by JC Sentry Market and hot cocoa donated by Mo’s.

Space is limited, so it’s a good idea to call 541-265-6200 or visit Marine Discovery Tours at Anchor Pier, 345 SW Bay Blvd., on Newport’s Bayfront before 3 p.m. on Dec. 7.

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