The tour boats played festive music while kids drank hot chocolate and parents sipped on something stronger, and the driver, Capt. Ryan, put on a running commentary akin to the tour guides on Disney’s Jungle Cruise.
Sitting on a bench amid the bundled-up masses, I shivered as I waited to watch the show of cookie-cutter houses and uninventive Christmas decorations, but the boring display of Christmas lights never came.
The houses were gorgeous and all were different. Some did have the basic string of white lights along the roof, but most put thought into it and a few put Disneyland to shame.
This year’s theme was “Rockin’ the Night Away,” an homage to the Philharmonic. The money raised during the weeklong event goes directly to student music programs. Many residents got into the theme and had different musical instruments lit up in lights.
Skylar Sievers, 7, said she loved all the lights, but one stuck out as her favorite.
“I like the one that had the big guitar across it,” Skylar said.
Skylar and her 11-year-old sister Sydney come every year. Sydney shared a Christmas joke with the boat. What do elves study in school? — the elf-abet, Sydney said.
Ryan chatted and told other Christmas zingers, and everyone spoke up when a truly spectacular house went by. A colorful house with a Native American theme got everyone’s attention. As the tribal figures, animals and butterflies went past, the whole boat said it — Oh, aww, fabulous.
Westminster resident Chris Callahan said more residents than last year participated. Callahan and her group of 14 always come to the cruise Dec. 22.
Callahan said she enjoyed the lights, but for her nephew Justin Hoffman, 16, it was all about the boats.
“He liked the yachts,” she said. “We were picking ours out.”
I’m glad I wasn’t the only one.