Palm trees do not immediately conjure up the holiday spirit. But the holiday cheer was in full force the afternoon of December 13th in Venice, CA. This is a special place year round. It attracts artisans of all types, so it is no surprise this community finds a unique way to usher in the holiday season.One of the Venice neighborhoods is actually built around canals in the likeness of Venice, Italy.
What a great place for a boat parade!
Year after year, everyone looks forward to this day. Many families and friends plan their entry into the parade throughout the year. Most are built on kayaks or rafts with a few elite entries of small barges that can hold 15-20 people. This year, there was a little nip in the air as southern California dipped to chilly 40 degrees. That didn’t stop the spectators from coming out in record numbers. All the bridges and paths along the canals were packed. Many were holding a warm cup of spiked cider; the kids where balancing hot chocolate.
The headliners this year included the Flakes, a couple dressed as snowflakes, winding through the channel singing Christmas songs. A group of over 15 on a single barge reenacted a 1940’s holiday party with martinis in hand. One family had dressed their paddle boat as a red trolley. Many kayaks were decorated in holiday style, including the one with a tree on the bow and a menorah on the stern.
Walking through the area, we noticed holiday parties everywhere. It reminded me that, while this parade may be a competition with judges scoring each float, it is really about community. This is a time to gather, tell stories and laugh. I am fortunate to have moved often in my career. Having lived in many different cities, I have seen holiday traditions all over the country. Whatever the tradition, whatever the occasion, take time for play.
All work and no play makes jack a dull boy… Even when back at work on Monday, this event was fodder for the water cooler. I couldn’t give advice for putting your career on the fast track without also advising you to be a part of your community and to take time to enjoy life.
Share your local holiday traditions and what brings your community together in the comments…
photos used by permission: Katrina Snaps