The Huntington Harbour Boat Parade and Cruise of Lights started with a group of residents trying to raise a few dollars for local student music programs.
Fifty-one years later, the spectacle organized by the Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee has raised millions of dollars for more than 200,000 elementary through high school music students in Orange County, according to Eva Kilgore, the organization's spokeswoman.
Kilgore, a business columnist for the Orange County Register, said boat owners from the harbor and even a few from Los Angeles will decorate vessels small and large in keeping with this year's theme, "Music Around the World."
"The boat parade now has dozens of boats," she said. "It's a 'Thank you' to our residents for decorating [their homes] for the Cruise of Lights."
On Dec. 7 and 8, residents can watch the decorated boats from various points around Huntington Harbour, including Peter's Landing Marina. Boats will begin lining up around 4:30 p.m., with the procession starting at 5:15 p.m.
In addition to the seagoing vessels, many waterfront homes will get spruced up for the Cruise of Lights fundraising event, which runs from Dec. 14, 15 and 19 to 23.
Tickets for the 45-minute narrated tour through the harbor range from $10 for children to $17 for adults. A $2 discount for an adult admission will be offered Dec. 19. Portions of the proceeds will be donated to student music programs throughout the county through the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.
"We've had guest as far as New Zealand take the Cruise of Lights," Kilgore said. "We've also had two marriage proposals on the cruise."
To purchase tickets to the Cruise of Lights, visit cruiseoflights.org.