Submitted by Olympia Yacht Club

The Olympia Yacht Club’s (OYC) Annual 2017 Parade of Lighted Ships scheduled for Saturday, December 2 includes several activities that enhance this long-standing Olympia holiday tradition. While the Parade of Lighted Ships gets underway promptly at 6:00 p.m. Saturday December 2, spectators are urged to arrive prior to 6:00 at Olympia’s Port Plaza Park to ensure they’ve the opportunity to see all the decorated boats as they sail by. Starting at 5:15 p.m., Santa & Mrs. Claus are making a special appearance at Port Plaza Park and they will be joined by local Carolers from the Capital High School Chamber Choir.  To help keep viewers warm, Olympia’s own Batdorf & Bronson is serving complimentary hot cocoa.   For best viewing, it’s recommended that you get to the Port Plaza Park, 701 NW Columbia St., Olympia and dock area before 6:00 p.m.

Parade of lighted ships
Each year, hundreds of people bring their families out to watch the lovely Parade of Lighted Ships. Photo courtesy: Olympia Yacht Club

Approximately 20 lighted boats, including The Sandman, Olympia’s own historic tug are expected to participate in the Parade and they will sail north from the Percival Landing area past the Judge’s Boat at the Port Plaza Dock and then north along the east side of Budd Inlet to Boston Harbor. Then boats return to Olympia by 8:00 p.m. along the west side of Budd Inlet.  Since many of the boats are decorated only on their starboard/right hand side the best viewing as they sail north will be from the Port area, the tip of the Port Peninsula by Anthony’s Hearthfire restaurant and KGY Radio, and anywhere along East Bay Drive north of Swantown Marina. On the return trip south from Boston Harbor good vantage points include West Bay Drive, West Bay Marina and Tugboat Annie’s.

Not only is this a fun evening for parade participants it’s a favorite holiday tradition for hundreds of families in our community. Many folks living along the parade route host holiday parties that night while others brave the elements to line up along the boardwalk and view the bright holiday lights.  Attendees are encouraged to plan for the usual Olympia fall/winter weather which could likely mean rain. Rain didn’t deter attendance at the 2016 Parade.

A recap of the 2017 Parade of Lighted Ships high-level timeline is as follows:
5:15 p.m. – Santa & Mrs. Claus arrive at the Port Plaza Park and dock area

5:30 p.m. – Capital High School Chamber Choir Carolers begin performing

5:45 p.m. – Boats begin gathering around Percival Landing in preparation for the Parade

6:00 p.m. – Lighted Ships begin to pass Judge’s boat located at the Port Plaza dock

While the OYC sponsors the Parade of Lighted Ships, it’s open to any South Sound decorated boat and all South Sound boaters are welcome & encouraged to participate. Boaters who want to join the Parade must register and pick up their parade packet at Olympia Yacht Club, 201 Simmons St (next to Bayview Thriftway). on Friday December 1 between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. The decorating theme for the parade is Winter Waterland and prizes will be awarded for the Best Sailboat, Best Powerboat, Best of Theme, and Grand Illusion (Judge’s Choice).

The Olympia Yacht Club Parade of Lighted Ships has been a popular Olympia event as long as anyone can remember; its origins go back to at least the 1960s.  Santa & Mrs. Claus’, the Capital High School Carolers and Batdorf & Bronson’s hot cocoa will make it an even more memorable event.  Please grab your kids, dressed right for the weather Saturday December 2 and get on down to see the 2017 Parade of Lighted Ships.

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