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Floating parades

Christmas parades take to the sea in waterfront communities around Washington

Stand on the shoreline and enjoy floating holiday parades this season. File photo

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Climate change is a bit of a hot topic these days. (Pun fully intended.) For all the talk this election season, the nation appears to be divided between two extremes - one side thinks it doesn't exist, while the other side thinks we'll be living in the movie Waterworld in short order. The 1995 film posits a future where climate change melts all of the polar ice and submerges Earth in an endless ocean. The film makes predictions about how we'd survive in such a world, but fails to explain how we'd celebrate the holidays. Maybe we'll find out in a sequel, but in the meantime ...

The Tacoma Yacht Club's annual Lighted Boat Parade has been a Christmas tradition in Grit City for over 25 years. Saturday, Dec. 17 at 6 p.m., some two dozen club members will cruise their festively lighted boats from the club's docks by the Point Defiance Ferry Landing, along the Ruston Way waterfront and Thea Foss Waterway to the Museum of Glass. Since boating after sundown is risky, a 100-year-old Coast Guard cutter - the MV Curtis - will escort the yachts, acting as a displacer for any errant logs, marine life or seafaring grinches. Every spot along the parade route provides a good viewpoint, but event insiders recommend one of the many waterfront restaurants along Ruston Way and the Thea Foss Waterway, as well as along the Museum of Glass' waterfront esplanade.

"It's a way for us to lend to the festive atmosphere and ambience of the season that's unique to a waterfront community," said event chairman Jim Justin.

Unique to a waterfront community, perhaps, but by no means unique to Tacoma.

The Olympia Yacht Club hosts its annual Parade of Lighted Ships - chaired by longtime club member Tammy Questi - Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. This, too, is a long-running Christmas tradition - one that takes hundreds of volunteers and over 10,000 lights to accomplish each year. This year's parade theme is "Candy Cane Currents."

"It's one of the major Christmas events for the community," said Commodore Walt Schefter. "It's gotta' be seen."

The Bremerton Yacht Club hosts two annual Lighted Boat Parades Friday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 17, both at 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, Argosy Cruises is gearing up for its 67th annual Christmas Ships Festival. This beloved series of nighttime nautical Christmas parades run through Dec. 23 and features more than 65 lighted ships making their way from Lake Union through the Fremont Cut, with the Christmas Ship itself carrying a different full choir from the community each night to serenade attendees in Seattle, Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Port Orchard and other communities throughout Pierce, King and Kitsap counties.

Election season is blessedly behind us, giving way to the much more welcome holiday season, and you shouldn't let any lingering concerns about global warming dampen your holiday season. Even if we all wind up underwater one day, plenty of forward thinking boaters are here to make sure the Christmas spirit stays afloat.

The Tacoma Yacht Club Lighted Boat Parade, Saturday, Dec. 17, 6 p.m., 5401 Yacht Club Rd., Tacoma, 253.752.3555,

The Olympia Yacht Club Parade of Lighted Ships, Saturday, Dec. 3, 6 p.m., 201 Simmons St. NW, Olympia, 360.357.6767,

The Bremerton Yacht Club Lighted Boat Parade, Friday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 17, 6 p.m., 2700 Yacht Haven Way NW, Bremerton, 360.479.2662,

Argosy Cruises' Christmas Ships Festival, through Friday, Dec. 23; for times and tickets please call 888.623.1445 or visit

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