The iconic boat parade in Newport Harbor might be canceled – but that doesn’t mean you can’t find holiday festivities in the nearby bay.
The Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina is rolling out its version of holiday cheer, starting with its 30th annual Lighting of the Bay at dusk on Friday, Nov. 27.
The Lighting of the Bay typically launches with school choirs singing, train rides through the grounds and Santa roaring in on a water craft. This year, however, there’s no official kick-off event so crowds don’t gather because of coronavirus restrictions and precautions – but people can still stroll the bay front to see the festive floating lights reflecting on the water, organizers said.
“It’s just so beautiful to see the lights on the bay,” said Jan Yerzik, director of marketing for Newport Dunes. “This year we’re not having a grand opening, but we are still having the lights every night and that’s important to us. People can come stroll on the bay and see the lights. It’s all outdoors, there are no crowds, so families can just take a stroll around the bay and experience the lighting.”
The resort’s nightly bay lighting will last through New Year’s Day and is free to view, though parking rates apply.
Standard COVID-19 rules will apply: physical distancing and wearing face coverings will be required.
“The whole resort is lit up with holiday lights, the palm trees are lit up, you’ll walk around and as you’re entering, there’s a lit up RV,” Yerzik said. “There’s a lot of holiday lights throughout the resort.”
The Newport Dunes has also added some new ways to celebrate this year for people who want to get out and enjoy, but in their own groups or families.
“I think the trend is to stay in your family group, don’t gather, but try to have a nice experience that is memorable,” Yerzik said.
The resort area will be renting out private fire pits on the sand from Dec. 4-19 with dinner from the beachfront grill Moe B’s Munchies and marshmallows for roasting, delivered directly to groups. Prices start at $26 for two people to $83 for the maximum six people.
“We’re keeping people physically distanced, so that we are safe and we’re delivering all the food so people don’t have to gather,” Yerzik said. “The lights on the bay are just magical. You’re sitting around a campfire, what can be better on the beach?”
The whole resort is lit up with holiday lights, including palm trees and even some of the RVs in the park are decked out, she said.
The Dunes is also launching holiday drive-in movies that private parties can book, a way to get groups together but keep space between them – a twist on the holiday company party or an idea for larger families who want to get together, but keep space to maintain safety.
The “drive-in celebrations” are shown on a large screen, with a stage and sound system that broadcasts through an FM radio. Reservations can range from 20 cars to 100.
“The cars are six-feet apart, they can do a daytime or nighttime event,” she said. “They get their pick of the movie, ‘The Grinch’ or whatever movie they are excited about, we will try and get that for them.”
More info: newportdunes.com
Source: Orange County Register