The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade will celebrate its 108th birthday when it kicks off Dec. 14. The first set of lighted boats hit Newport Harbor on July 4, 1908 – when the Chicago Cubs were defending World Series champions. Of course the Cubs went on to defend its championship a few months later, but the Loveable Losers would not win a baseball title again for the rest of the century.
This year’s boat parade marks only the second time in its history it would coincide with a Cubs championship. The Cubbies ended its 108-year championship drought in early November, about six weeks ahead of the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.
Much has changed since 1908. The boat parade itself switched from a summer event to a major highlight of the Christmas season. Newport Beach grew from 445 residents in 1910 to about 87,000 today. Area codes did not come into existence until the 1950s. Newport Beach was initially assigned 213 (along with the rest of the rest of the Los Angeles region); 714 and 949 were assigned much later. The estimated 4,500 vessels in Newport Beach probably dwarves the number of boats sailing the central Orange County harbor in 1908.
Sources: Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, MLB.com, U.S. Census, nationalnanpa.com