Posted by: Brad Nixon | December 3, 2018

Holiday Decorating Tips … Waterfront Edition

It’s a common pastime at this time of year: Take a walk after dark to see the holiday lights and decorations in the neighborhood.

Even neighborhoods you don’t immediately think of are decorated. For example, regular readers know I occasionally walk along the main channel of the Port of Los Angeles. After dark, the place is a festival of lights, regardless of the season.

LA harbar night Brad Nixon 2969 680

I was there tonight, and, sure enough, a couple of the neighbors did go out of their way to, um, spruce up a bit for the holiday.

Iowa holiday Brad Nixon 2968 680

Yes, there’s nothing like a few twinkling lights to add some holiday pizazz to your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, 900-foot, 46,000-ton battleship. In this instance, the USS Iowa.

Boat owners near and far go all-out to decorate their craft — large or small — and participate in what must be thousands of holiday boat parades at marinas, harbors, lakes and rivers. The Iowa can’t exactly parade; it’s moored along the pier, and hasn’t motored around under its own power for several decades.

Next door to Iowa is a smaller, highly mobile watercraft, tiny by comparison to the battleship, that was all dressed up for the L.A. Harbor Holiday Afloat boat parade.

Fire Boad holiday M Vincent 0242 680

At 105 feet long, with two 1,800 horsepower engines, Fireboat 2 isn’t petite. Here’s how it looks on duty.

LAFD Fire Boat 2 Brad Nixon 1273 (571x640)

The LAFD went all out. The forward “monitor” in the bow can pump 11,000 gallons of water per minute, but in honor of the holiday, it sported a colored wrapping of lights and a friendly fire dog.

Fire Boat holiday M Vincent 0258 680

Aft, the big hydraulic boom provided a perfect launch pad for Santa and three of the reindeer.

Fire Boat santa M Vincent 0247 680

I assume the other reindeer were in the ready room with the LAFD crew on duty, maybe eating Santa’s milk and cookies, ready for the call.

Here’s Iowa in its just-your-ordinary-battleship mode. You can see the forward mast when it’s not strung with holiday lights.

Battleship Iowa Brad Nixon 0471 680

I’m sorry to say I missed the harbor boat parade. I’m sure it was fun, and I’d loved to have seen Fireboat 2 out there among ’em. We caught it berthed in its firehouse. My thanks to The Counselor for getting shots my lens couldn’t manage at close range through the windows of the big structure.

Happy decorating. Let me know how your aircraft carrier or container ship looks once you’re done stringing lights.

To read more about Fireboat 2 and see additional photos, read my blog post at this link.

I wrote about the USS Iowa, with more photos at this link.

© Brad Nixon 2018. Some photos © M. Vincent 2018, used by kind permission.


  1. Niiiiice!
    We’ll have to check out our much smaller marina area!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Probably quite a few decorated. Get out the binocs. The coast guard cutter out on Ediz Hook might be twinkly.


  2. I would never think of ships for Christmas decorations. That fireboat with the Dalmation really got my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are boat parades galore here. As a matter of fact, the largest will take place this coming Saturday. I’m afraid there won’t be any battleships, but one of the fire boats will be there, as will the kayaker who’s been part of the festivities as long as I’ve been around. It’s great fun. Several years ago, a friend won first place with Santa in an airplane, high in the rigging. Of course, there always are a few sportsfishers with lots of lights, loud music, and girls in sparkly elf costumes.

    I’ve only known our parade to be cancelled twice. Once was because of fog, and one year a strong norther blew so much water out of the lake that the parade route was impassable. Well, except for the kayaker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s PERFECT! The apotheosis of the kayaker! I’m with HIM.


  4. A battleship with holiday lights. Hmmm. Only in California. Ka—boom! Happy holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It just occurred to me: I could write a novel about that holiday battleship. I’ll call it War and Peace. Wait! Has that been done already? Oh, well.


      • No copyright on titles. Feel free.


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