Boat parade lights up Petaluma waterfront

  • Santa Claus makes his appearance during the Lighted Boat Parade in Petaluma, Calif., on December 7, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

A flotilla of lighted boats brought glad tidings to the Petaluma Turning Basin on Saturday night in a holiday tradition that has endured more than three decades.

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 aboard one of the boats.

Petaluma Lighted Boat Parade


"Hi Santa!" was the cry of many of the children, including Ava, 4, who was there with her parents Michael and Amy Truncale.

"There he is. I think there are some elves there too," her father affirmed on spotting the red-suited Father Christmas.

Michael Truncale, a photographer and web developer who has lived in Petaluma three years, said it's just one event that makes the community "a great family town."

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.

They were lined along much of the route, at F and G streets, as well at Foundry Wharf.

The parade of 16 or 17 boats made its way from the Petaluma Marina to the downtown Turning Basin in a trip that took about 20 minutes.

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