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Lighted Yacht Parade Sets Sail December 2

Mark your calendars and pray that it doesn’t rain. The 47th Annual Lighted Yacht Parade, a highlight of the holiday season for many Alamedans, will take place on Saturday, December 2, at 5:30 p.m., on the Oakland/Alameda Estuary. The event will benefit Alameda County Community Food Bank and Oakland Firefighters.

Alameda Post - the poster for the 2023 Lighted Yacht Parade

Alameda Post - a ferry with Christmas lights. It's ready to take passengers to see the Lighted Yacht Parade from the water
The SF Bay Ferry Taurus, decked out for the 2022 Lighted Yacht Parade, boarded passengers at the Main Street Ferry Terminal in Alameda. Photo Liz Barrett.

Last year’s event—hosted as usual by the Oakland and Encinal Yacht Clubs—was a big success despite the cold and wet weather. The raindrops made the colorful holiday lights glisten even more, and spectators on land stayed to wave at all the decorated boats as they passed. At least 30 vessels adorned with lavish displays of lights, music, and holiday cheer sailed in the parade.

Passengers on the fully decorated San Francisco Bay Ferry weren’t shy about enjoying the views from the outdoor decks as well as the warm, comfy indoor seats. The ride-along ferry will be back in the parade this year, officials have confirmed, departing from (and returning to) Alameda’s Seaplane Lagoon Ferry Terminal, as the Main Street Ferry Terminal is closed for renovations.

Details about this year’s lighted ferry have not yet been released, but last year passengers were asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy for firefighters’ toy drives in lieu of paying a fare. Everybody got gift bags with candy and ferry swag as they boarded, and the staff provided lots of fun and games for families and kids.

Sponsors for the 2023 Lighted Yacht Parade include C’era Una Volta, Scott’s, Trabocco, Faction Brewing, San Francisco Bay Ferry, St. George Spirits, Bae Boats, Fast Imaging, West Marine, Marina Village Yacht Harbor, and Jack London Square. To donate or get more information, please visit the Lighted Yacht Parade website.

Alameda Post - the map of the 2023 Lighted Yacht Parade route in the Oakland Estuary
The route for the 2023 Lighted Yacht Parade. Image Lighted Yacht Parade.

Parade route

The 2023 Lighted Yacht Parade will start between Wind River and the Fortman Marina’s public pier (1535 Clement Ave.), which will serve as the parade’s staging area. Starting at about 5:30 p.m. the boats will proceed down the Alameda side of the estuary past Encinal and Oakland Yacht Clubs, where the judges will be stationed.

Continuing down the Alameda side past Pasta Pelican, the boats will then cross to the Oakland side and pass by the Port of Oakland and Scott’s Seafood. Next, the parade will turn and make its way past Grand and Fortman Marinas on the way back to the staging area at Wind River.

There are many good spots to watch the parade, both indoors and outdoors. If you can’t get a table at Pasta Pelican, feel free to watch from anywhere along the estuary that is not private land.

Alameda Post - a sailboat with lights
A boat from the 2022 parade. Photo Ken Der.

Sail in the parade

Those who wish to sail in the parade must register online before by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, November 26. Late entries will be accepted until 5 p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday, November 29, for an additional $10 late fee.

All entrants must attend a mandatory skipper’s meeting on Thursday, November 30, at 6:30 p.m., at Encinal Yacht Club, 1251 Pacific Marina. At that time, parade officials will review the rules for safety and the parade route, assign boat numbers, and hand out participation gifts.

Please bring a deposit of $30 for your boat number. Deposits must be paid in cash or by check made out to Lighted Yacht Parade. The deposit is refundable and is separate from the entry fee. Also please bring an unwrapped toy for the Oakland Firefighters Random Acts or canned food for the Alameda County Food Bank.

Those who do not attend the skippers meeting will not be allowed to participate in the parade or collect a participation gift.

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