"Dolphins!" shouts 12-year-old Riley Beek as she points to the middle of California's Newport Harbor. Three graceful mammals arch in and out of the water, unofficially marking the start of an annual holiday event: the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Soon Riley and her family will watch more than 100 vessels covered with colored lights and decorations cruise along these Orange County channels.
Generations of Beeks have enjoyed the parade since its inception more than 60 years ago. Riley's great-grandfather and Newport's first harbormaster, Joseph Beek, towed a barge with carolers and a lighted tree around the harbor in 1946. Today, her grandfather Seymour operates the harbor ferry and her dad, David, runs the fuel dock. Aunts, uncles, and cousins return each year to the family's historic home for the parade.
For the Beeks, this is more than a festival of lights. "When I see the parade," Riley says, "I think of family."
For more on the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, visit christmasboatparade.com.