It's that time of year again, and the lighted boat parades are happening across America. In Petaluma, for instance, just north of San Francisco, last Saturday, a flotilla of lighted boats brought glad tidings to the Petaluma Turning Basin in a holiday tradition that has endured more than three decades.
Santa in one of many lighted boat parades across America - photo by Alvin Jornada
The Yuletide procession of decorated vessels was viewed by throngs along both banks of the Petaluma River.
They glided down the river to the expectant families and children waiting for a glimpse of Santa Claus.
'Hi Santa!' was the cry of many of the children.
The first lighted boat parade was in 1982, and the event has been carried on by the Petaluma Yacht Club with sponsorship from the Petaluma Visitors Center.
'It always draws a pretty good crowd,' said Petaluma Harbormaster Barry Thorsson, who estimated attendance at perhaps 2,000 people Saturday.
Some of the lighted craft were festooned with toy reindeer, Christmas trees and even what appeared to be a disco ball shining over Santa.
Spectators stood three and four deep in some places craning for a look, some clutching cocoa or coffee to ward off the chill.
...and this will be the case in hundreds of coastal towns and cities across America. Check out your nearest lighted boat parade, and take the kids - anyone's kids!