Dana Point: Whale Party Time

How mondo is the annual Festival of Whales? It covers two weekends.

IF YOUR PEEPERS ARE PEELED... and you're hoping to see a real-life, oh-gosh-it's-huge whale, where do you look and what do you look for? Many stalwart seafarers have their tips and notions, from keeping an eye out for "fluke prints" (the distinctive surface patterns left by a whale's tale) to watching for the "puff" that arises from a blowhole (which is actually fairly easy to discern, even at a good distance, when the weather is fine). But if you're in Dana Point over the first two weekends of March, all you really probably need to do is grab some curb for the parade, an ocean-adoring procession that includes "(g)iant helium parade balloons" depicting a few different whales, including an orca and a blue. True, those whales'll be up in the air, and not in the Big Water, but they're a part of the larger party, one that's been around for nearly a half century (or 46 years, which qualifies as a good amount of time). It's the Dana Point Festival of Whales, and it will once again splash about, in water and on the land, on...

MARCH 4, 5, 11, AND 12: Four days of whale love equals a whole bunch of blowhole-esque to-dos, from the already mentioned parade to Ocean Awareness Day to a free outdoor screening of "Finding Dory" to whale watching trips galore (it's that time of year for some chances-are-good gray sightings). The whale watching'll has a fee, but many of the happenings around the charmer of a Pacific-adjacent town are free. A rubber ducky derby, sand sculpting, and a cardboard dinghy dash lend the lark an air of community spirit and not-too-serious pizzazz. Of course, staying aware of our co-mammals, the ones that live out in the ocean and rock their majestic flukes, is important, and knowing what hurdles they face, and future, is on the serious side. Both stewardship, and light-hearted doings, weave together over the two-weekend tradition. How do you spot a whale? It all depends if that whale is in a parade or happily cruising out in the watery distance, just below the surface but near enough to give those on a boat a true thrill.

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