1.0 Marina del Rey Boat Parade | About 

The Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade is the largest and most spectacular boat parade in southern California, the parade was formed by the boat culture community within the Marina Del Rey City in 1963. The Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade non-profit organization is dedicated to offering the Los Angeles Community a glimpse of the boat culture and lifestyle bringing families and friends together to celebrate Christmas by the beach and enjoy the beautiful light-decorated boat parade.

Organization Website: www.mdrboatparade.org

We are excited to announce our 60th-anniversary parade this year and our collaboration with the Avozar creative group in creating, producing, and redefining this historical event experience. Our goal is to celebrate with our families and friends and our Los Angeles community within a reacher and more meaningful experience. Together we will continue to reinforce this cultural event delighting our city and our county.

The first boat parade in Marina del Rey circled the Marina’s main basin in 1963, there were approximately 100 boats in the Marina and almost no buildings. Twenty of the hundred boats lead the float into forming the first parade. Margie and Steve Bragg were among the first hundred Marina del Rey Boat owners who formed Pioneer Skippers Boat Owners Association. They and the other charter members decided to have a boat parade because the harbor had nothing at the time.  Our boat parades create exposure to the Marina del Rey city, the City of Los Angeles culture, and our local businesses through our boat lifestyle.

“Twice we had a Christmas tree on a raft out in the middle of the main basin, with a generator to light it,” Margie recalled. “We kept it there throughout the holiday season. John Erskine and my husband, Steve, took turns rowing out every night with gasoline to keep the lights burning” The trees were mammoth and flocked. They were donated by a local bank. But it was expensive because Pioneer Skippers had to carry insurance on it, in case some boat clobbered it. “We would bring a raft up to the end of a basin and nail a stand to it. Then the tree went over the fence, down to the raft and was stayed on all four corners. It was beautiful.”

The Braggs didn’t enter the first boat parade, won by Pez Espada IV, but the following year “my husband knew a man who made the Paul Bunyan statues you see in service stations holding tires on one out-stretched arm. “We borrowed a Paul Bunyan. It took nine men to carry Paul to the dock. We had to winch the statue aboard. We wrapped him to the stays.” “At that time, we lived aboard, and I thought he was going to join us for breakfast every morning. They dressed him in crepe paper and cotton to be Santa Claus. My husband climbed a tall ladder and painted red spots on his cheeks, and gave him twinkly eyes. We made him a white cotton beard and eyebrows. Then it rained. You should have seen our Santa. We started all over again, and when we were finished the second time we built a platform on his outstretched arm.”

“Our children and their friends wrapped empty boxes and covered them with ribbons. They dressed as elves for the parade, and bounced around on our 24-foot-wide deck.” Margie sat in Santa’s hand. They took her up the ladder and tied her into an aircraft seat belt. They left the ladder on the dock. “The parade started. And so did the rain,” Margie recalled. “Everyone on deck had refreshments and Chicken Delight. I was stuck way up in the air in an evening gown. I had a grand view of the parade, and it drizzled throughout the whole hour we circled the harbor. I nearly froze.”

They won first in Class D and then won the grand prize. “So we decided not to enter anymore. It wasn’t fair to the other boats.,” Margie recalled.

The Marina grew from 100 to nearly 6,000 boats since the first few boat parades. In 1964, a detached breakwater was built, to solve the surge problems. The first restaurant, Pieces O’ Eight on Fiji Way is now Shanghai Red’s. The Christmas Boat Parade is now a Holiday Boat Parade.

The Braggs moved away many years ago. However, many Marina boat owners who have lighted and decorated their boats for marina del Rey boat parades through the years are still here. They may not have won, but they joined the parade, and as they watch each year’s new parade, they remember. Standing on the docks, watching the parade every year, they recall winning – and not winning, but participating in –the boat parade. After their grand efforts, they elected to become spectators.

Along with newcomers, who watch this parade for the first time are the many boat owners and crew who have perpetuated our salute to the holidays, Marina del Rey’s annual Holiday Boat Parade.

Past Events | 1963 – 2022

Become part of this great parade an icon for the City of Los Angeles.