Thousands lined the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor on Saturday night for the annual Lighted Boat Parade. (Greg L. Haws — Contributed) 

Parade prizewinners

• Best of Show: No. 23, Suivez Moi, Rachel Hoffman.

• Best of Theme: No. 3, OSC, Ruth Romero.

• Best in Lights: No. 34, Jellyfish, Jim Thoits.

• Best in Music: No. 23, Suivez Moi, Rachel Hoffman.

• Stationary Vessels: first place – No. 1, Rumba, Tim Pendley; second place – No. 24, Worry Knot, Joe Wagster.

• People Powered: first place – No. 2, Shadow, Julia Kinst; second place – No. 12, Santa’s Sleigh, Danny Walker.

• Sailboats (31 feet and over): first place – No. 22, Vuja De, Jon Kim; second place – No. 31, AnPassant, Keith Carnay.

• Sailboats (less than 31 feet): first place – No. 33, Double Expresso, Jason Lauer; second place – No. 32, Circe, Ron and Jill Lindsay.

•Power Boats (31 feet and over): first place – No. 27, Onward, Mikako Lazarus; second place – No. 30, Logom, Jim Andsen.

• Power Boats (less than 31 feet): first place – No. 11, My Boat, Jeff Windham; second place – No. 13, Tesadura, Peter Testa.


SANTA CRUZ >> The jetties were jammed and the harbor was sparkling for this year’s Lighted Boat Parade.

The relatively warm temperatures, full moon and rain-free skies seemed to be added draw for the public on Saturday’s 29th annual event, participants say.

Parade director Tom Dexel estimated that thousands of people came out to watch some 30 lit-up and holiday decorated boats circling the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor.

“As I walked from where I was doing live commentary at Aldo’s wharf, as I was walking back to the clubhouse to hand out prizes, I was just walking along, listening to the community and having conversations with people,” Dexel said. “People had blankets out and little lanterns. It was like the middle of the summer. It was an incredible evening.”

Jim Thoits, who has had a boat at the harbor since 1970 and regularly takes part in the lighted boat parade said the event “went off without a hiccup” this year. He estimated that this year’s event went well above and beyond past years’ turnout.

“People were two or three deep at the bridge. They were lined up all the way down at the harbor, Aldo’s was packed,” Thoits said. “It was such a huge, huge turnout. It’s really nice that everybody comes out for it.”

While no one had an exact number of the turnout, estimates ranged from 2,000 to 5,000 people.

When the Santa Cruz Yacht Club-sponsored event first began in 1986, just five vessels joined in the festivities. The yearly event launching the community into the holiday season, however, has taken on a life of its own, those involved said.

While harbor businesses typically remain open for the parade each year, some vendors and nonprofit groups offered additional food and drink at the launch ramp and at other locations on both the east and west side of the harbor.

“This year, UCSC had a boat in there, which was pretty good. They had some music and some dancing people,” Thoits said of new additions.

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