For a quarter of a century, Newport has welcomed the holiday season with a unique and colorful display — the annual Lighted Boat Parade on Yaquina Bay. This year’s 25th annual event is set for Saturday, Dec. 1.
The idea for the parade came from Don and Fran Mathews, owners of Marine Discovery Tours on the Newport Bayfront. The first Lighted Boat Parade was held in 1994.
“The main reason we wanted to do it that year is because we wanted to get to know our other boating neighbors and our neighbors along the waterfront down here,” Fran Mathews said. And Marine Discovery Tours has continued to be the main sponsor of the event over the years.
The Lighted Boat Parade gets underway at 5 p.m. Saturday and generally goes until around 6:30 p.m.
“Great views of the parade are available from any of the open piers or restaurants along the bay,” said Mathews. “Every boat is going to do its best to stop and rotate in front of the platforms that have people on them.”
People can also be part of the parade itself. Passenger-licensed boats from Marine Discovery Tours and Newport Tradewinds have space available for guests. Mathews said for those wanting to ride on one of the boats, “ticket space is limited. We’ve actually got about 20 people on the list already.” For information about tickets, call Marine Discovery Tours at 541-265-6200, or visit them on the Newport Bayfront at 345 SW Bay Blvd.
Marine Discovery Tours is also the contact point for anyone wanting to enter a boat in this year’s parade. In the past, entries have ranged from commercial fishing boats and sailing vessels all the way down to a kayak.
“We’ve even had people on Jet Skis blast into the middle of it,” Mathews said.
All proceeds from boat registrations and passenger tickets for the Lighted Boat Parade go to the support the Pacific Communities Health District Foundation.