Feature: Los Angeles kicks off holiday season with festive land and sea events

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by Julia Pierrepont III

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- The 50th annual Los Angeles-San Pedro LA Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade enchanted the eye as a stunning array of ships, boats and pleasure craft bedecked with holiday lights of all colors and shapes set sail in the Los Angeles Harbor Saturday night.

Though lacking the intrepid Asian junks, shows and crab-claw sailing canoes of the Indo-Pacific that sailed the Pacific thousands years ago or the stately three-masted tall ships from Europe that circled the globe in the late 15th century, this aquatic festival of shipborne lights is a marvelous tradition that has been a family favorite for two generations.

The festive regatta included dozens of sea-worthy vessels that ranged from smaller speed boats and single-masted sloops, cutters, schooners, to 75-feet, multi-million-dollar yachts with sumptuous cabins and uniformed crews more at home at the Cannes Film Festival.

Throngs of families and onlookers lined the beach and piers as the waterborne parade sailed past massive container ships at dock in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, vying for pride of place on the glittering waters of San Pedro Bay.

The crowds watched with delight as the magical boats turned the waters of the bay to vibrant reflected reds, purples, blues, greens and gold. Each boat in the parade was elaborately decorated with stings of twinkling fairy lights, flashing stars, glowing Christmas trees, rosy Santas and other festive lights.

In the previous week, Hollywood's 89th annual Christmas Parade also enchanted spectators, as it returned with a bang this year, with enough floats, movie cars, performers and celebrities to entertain the whole family.

An annual tradition since 1928, the Christmas Parade was only canceled during World War II and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proceeds from the parade go to supporting the popular philanthropic Toys for Tots giveaway program by the U.S. Marines.

Actor and comedian Sheryl Underwood, a host on "The Talk" TV show, served as Grand Marshal of the parade, together with actor Jerry O'Connell. Many family favorites were featured in the parade as giant balloons or decorative floats, including Dr. Seuss's popular Cat-in the Hat and the Lomax, as well as a rampaging T-Rex, the traditional Alpine-style Nutcracker, Frosty the Snowman and even a vivacious Betty Boop, the iconic cartoon character from the 1930s.

Film characters always feature prominently in Hollywood's Christmas Parade and this year was no exception as fans were treated to a formidable line up of the Ghostbuster's crew as well as costumed Star Wars characters, including R2-D2 and C-3PO, and an entire squad of white-armored Imperial stormtroopers that audiences love to hate.

High-stepping equestrian teams, Scottish bagpipers, the velour-clad, Armenian Korporkian Dance Academy Dancers, the Viva Panama Float Dancers, and Korean American Youth Performing Artists group whirled up a storm along the route alongside an amusing scooter squad bedecked with Christmas trees on their helmets and fairy lights on their rides.

Another beloved feature of the annual parade is the cool line up of iconic cars from some of Hollywood's top grossing blockbusters, including James Bond's Aston Martin, featured in from "Die Another Day", and the Delorean with its mysterious Flux Capacitor from the "Back to the Future" franchise.

But by far the biggest star of the show and the most exciting ride was Santa Claus. Robed in his flowing, European style, signature white-trimmed red robe, he was drawn in his elegantly-carved magical sleigh, and flanked not just by frisky flying reindeer, but by U.S. Marines in dress blues.

For the sake of safety, event publicist Steve Moyer noted that the parade organizers had provided 10,000 disposable masks and encouraged all attendees to wear masks to the event while they enjoyed the festivities.

"Be observant and careful and considerate of other people - even if they are fully vaccinated," Moyer said. Enditem

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