THE FUN ANNUAL THEMES... of the holiday boat parades found just off the Golden State's lengthy shores can reflect yuletide traditions or California favorites or local icons. It all depends, really, what's in the air during a particular holiday season and what is the topic on people's minds. So if you had to guess how the yearly Dana Point Parade of Lights came by its 2015 -- "A Galactic Holiday" -- what would you alight upon? Ahhh, you guessed it on the very first try: "The Force Awakens," the latest film in the "Star Wars" universe, is the inspiration for the 2015 on-the-water procession, which will take place over two weekends. Make that two sets of Fridays and Saturdays, with Sundays off, so if you want to catch a night or two at Dana Point Harbor, pencil in Dec. 11, 12, 18, and 19.
THE 41ST ANNUAL BOAT PARADE OF LIGHTS... is a 90-minute twinkle-fest covering some 90 or so boats. Those can be capacious vessels, or lil' skiffs, or anything in the middle. The only theme, beyond the galactic notion, is to put up a whole mess of pretty lights, and plastic reindeer, and shiny snowmen, and the various implements you'd normally see on a front lawn, rather than a boat in a harbor. While many boats will probably stick close to the celebratory symbols of the yuletide, design-wise, there is a contest for Best Theme, so a couple of Darth Vaders and lightsabers may make a merry showing. As for the other three areas of friendly competition? Most Colorful, Best Animation, and Best Use of Lights.
WHEN IT ALL BEGAN... just over four decades ago, only a handful of boats were in the swing of things. Now it is a pretty sizable affair, with businesses around the harbor and locals all pitching in to make the party something memorable and sweet. As for whether all of those boat lights will resemble outer space stars, when they reflect upon the water? Well, that's up to personal poetical interpretation. We do love a good theme, and one that's a bit topical, pop culture-wise. Also, if you wear your Wookiee suit to watch, you'll stay mighty warm.