Lighting up the Stockton night

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The holiday season came early to Stockton this year as a crowd gathered around Weber Point Events Center to watch boats made of light travel from Buckley Cove off of March Lane.

This is the 31st annual Lighted Boat Parade was hosted by the Marina West Yacht Club.

A total of 37 boats displayed holiday flair around the Stockton Waterfront beginning at 6:15 p.m. giving visitors just enough time to watch the Weber Point tree lighting, complete with music from the from Stockton’s Cesar Chavez High School Honors Chorus.

Stockton residents could also be part of “Cocktails for Claus,” a night out dressing in Christmas attire and raising a toast to Saint Nicholas.

These three events make up the “Starlight Night” event in Downtown Stockton.

“It kind of gets you in the mood for the season,” said Marlene Peterson, long-lasting fan of the boat parade.

“It makes you happy, maybe it’s the kid in me,” she added.

The first boat to be seen was the Port of Stockton fireboat “Sunrise,” which took the position as leader of the pack.

The other boats followed, presenting lights while passengers waved to the crowds wishing them holiday cheer.

Some boats had presents, some boats had trees, some boats had music and dancing, but others had Red Baron Snoopy, Santa and even the Grinch.

“We like the ones with Santa on them, and we like the ones that dance,” said Amy Duncan, waiting for the parade with her granddaughter Julianna Duncan.

But a few budget cuts here and there has left this event cold for the Duncans.

Amy said there used to be more going on during this time of the year, including hot chocolate given to kids.

“Now it’s just a boat parade, it’s not as much fun,” said Amy Duncan.

“It was much bigger before,” said John Randolf Smith, a San Joaquin Delta College student in the 1980s.

“There were five times as many people at the Lodi parade as there were here,” he said.

But variation in the lighted boats kept the holiday cheer alive at Weber Point.

Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston said she’s comes to the event every year since she has been in office, and frequently since the parade started 31 years ago.

When asked what she looks forward too at this year parade, Johnston responded: “The entire parade, they (the boats) get better each year.”