Lighted Ships Parade celebrates 50 years

As night fell along the shores of Liberty Bay on Saturday Dec. 14, crowds of families braved the cold to partake in a tradition dating half a century: Poulsbo Yacht Club’s Lighted Ships Parade.

To kick off the festivities the Viking Brass Band and a local children’s choir traded off performances of popular holiday tunes under the shelter of the Austin-Kvelstad Pavillion. They continued to alternate between singing and playing when the ships began to sail by, only pausing to allow children onshore to hear the personalized greetings from Santa Claus.

According the Poulsbo Yacht Club, Santa read out over 100 greetings throughout the night as the ships traveled nearly 21 nautical miles around the peninsula from Poulsbo to Bainbridge.

While Santa is always the guest of honor on one ship, aboard Port Commissioner Mark DeSalvo’s powerboat were 30 members of the United States Navy.

The lighted ships parade is a joyous holiday treat for those viewing it on land, but in addition to the holiday spirit, it brings out a competitive spirit in its participants who can win prizes for their decorations as well.

This year Steve Roberts ship “Pell Mell” won a prize for best special effects, Adam Klett’s “Ripple Effect” won for most colorful, the O’Morchoes family tied with the Newell family for the boat with the best holiday spirit, and Tim McMahon‘s “Allusion” won the classical category, while Joesph Charnes’ “Aurora” won best in show.

A total of 35 ships participated in the parade on the 50th anniversary, creating a mile-and-a-half long train of boats. Leading the way was one ship with a bright red nose like Rudolph, and a decked out Poulsbo Police Department brought up the rear of the procession.

Many who lined the pathways of the park made their way to a lit fire pit to warm up or to various places in downtown Poulsbo to dine, grab a warm drink or continue their holiday shopping.

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