The Cruise of Lights in Huntington Beach, California puts the “sea” in “Season’s Greetings!” The lit-up seaside boat cruise put on by the Huntington County Philharmonic allows both locals and visitors to enjoy dazzling Christmas light displays on decorated homes, docks, and boats in Huntington Harbour.
The Cruise of Lights has been a local tradition for over 57 years, and brings people together on large whale-watching boats on a 45-minute narrated cruise. “We expect up to 10,000 people every year,” says Kim Wedden, President of the Committee of the Philharmonic Society. “We can take anywhere from 100 to 149 people out at once. We’re blessed to have so many residents that decorate for us.”
Every year, the Cruise of Lights has a theme, and participants start making plans early. “We come together starting in September at dinners, and discuss what kind of decorations we want to provide for our display,” explains Valerie Jones, whose family has been a part of the Cruise of Lights for over 40 years.
But the Cruise of Lights isn’t just a local, family affair. People come from all over to take in the spectacular nautical Christmas light displays. “We’ve had people from Colorado and Kansas. We even had a family from Japan,” shares Wedden. “And what’s really wonderful is we’ve got people who have been coming back every year.”
For participants and visitors alike, the Cruise of Lights is about giving back to the community, because it’s a fundraiser for the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. “This is our way of contributing to the musical program for the kids of Orange County,” shares Cruise of Lights participant, Renate Jones.
“Music is everywhere. It’s for everybody, and it has a powerful impact on children,” adds Wedden. “I have co-chaired Cruise of Lights nine times, and every year I think I couldn’t love it more than I do. But it is such a tradition, the fact that all these people will decorate their homes, and the harbour just lights up.”
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