Tacoma’s Holiday Boat Parade is ready to set sail. The flotilla will take to the water at about 5 p.m. on Dec. 15 and head along Tacoma’s waterfront in a celebration of both a holiday tradition that dates back to longer than Tacoma Yacht Club members can remember as well as Tacoma’s ties to the sea. The club itself dates back to 1889, the same year Washington became a state. “Each year, the boats have gotten more sophisticated and more animated,” parade organizer Greg Boyd said. “It has just turned into something. There are some people who spend a fortune on this.” The boat parade, numbering about 30 watercraft, is open to TYC members and non-members from around Puget Sound, pulling in boats from Bellingham, Gig Harbor, Seattle and Olympia. Awards are given for People’s Choice, Commodore Choice, Best Animation, Best Use of Lights, Best Classic Boat and Best Sailboat.
Spectators can view the parade for free from Point Defiance Marina, anywhere along Ruston Way’s “Restaurant Row” to Thea Foss Waterway. Foss Waterway Seaport is hosting a special viewing event, as is Rock the Dock, where patrons can watch the waterborne twinkling lights and decorations while sipping beers or downing shots. The parade travels along the waterfront, featuring boats large and small competing for top prizes for best decor. As part of the annual tradition, the parade of lighted boats proceeds to the head of Thea Foss Waterway, then each boat turns and exits the waterway a few minutes later. Viewers on land watching from the shores of Thea Foss Waterway’s esplanade get two times the treat by seeing the boats arrive and then depart moments later. TYC formed six weeks before Washington became the 42nd state when a group of 26 sail and power boaters met under the leadership of Linus A. Post, the club's first commodore, with the expressed desire of organizing a yachting club.