Sunday, December 9, 2007

Boats show off their colors

ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Dozens of boats bedecked with glittering, colorful lights crisscrossed the water near the entrance of the Santa Barbara Harbor yesterday evening, readying for the 22nd annual Parade of Lights.
Then, one by one, they set off along the coast, carving a lazy oval down to the end of East Beach before marching back along the shoreline and alongside thousands of cheering spectators on Stearns Wharf.

Aboard the 85-foot Channel Cat, bringing up the rear of the parade with strings of colored lights streaming down from its mast, dozens of people watched over the railing or milled about inside the salon.
Proceeds from the evening aboard the Channel Cat went to the Unity Shoppe, and its executive director, Tom Reed, could not thank those who stepped on board enough.
“This will raise about $12,000 to $13,000,” Reed said. “We really need it this time of the year.”
Unity Shoppe board member Lisa Rottman, along with her husband, Steven, helped organize the event, setting the railing atwinkle with golden lights, adorning tables with poinsettias, and intertwining boughs of greenery with ribbons and lights throughout the salon.
Bear Kramer, a good friend of the Channel Cat’s captain, King Williams, took his spot on the top of the vessel, blanketed with holiday lights and holding a glowing red surfboard, playing off the parade’s theme of “Surf’s Up for the Holidays.”
Other boats joined in on the theme, including the grand prize winner of the evening, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s Ranger.
“We’re stoked,” museum executive director Julie McDonald said, reveling in the win at the Endless Summer Bar-Cafe. “…We’re actually opening our first permanent surfing exhibit in February. It couldn’t be more appropriate.”
The Ranger took first place in the powerboat category as well as the overall competition for its depiction of Santa Claus wiping out on a cresting wave.
“We’ve been the lead vessel every year, but we never won until this year,” McDonald said.
First place among commercial fishing boats went to John Wilson’s Sea Fever. Santa Barbara Channelkeeper took top honors in the “commercial other” category, while Tara Brown’s kayak won first place in human-powered vessel. Finally, Michael Potter’s Trans World 1 topped the sail category.
The 87-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter Blackfin also made an appearance, its decks lined with gleaming holiday lights. As the boats circled near the harbor entrance after their journey along the coast, the first boom of fireworks sent everyone’s eyes skyward.
Red, green and golden flashes of light burst high in the air, reflecting on the calm ocean water as cheers went up from the crowds on the parade boats and lining the wharf. A final flurry brought the evening to a close, the ornamented vessels slowly pulling into the harbor to dock.

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