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See a Nativity re-enactment aboard a yacht in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

This season marks the fifth year Latter-day Saints have participated in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Latter-day Saints portray the Nativity on a 60-foot-yacht in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

Latter-day Saints portray the Nativity on a 60-foot-yacht in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


See a Nativity re-enactment aboard a yacht in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

This season marks the fifth year Latter-day Saints have participated in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Latter-day Saints portray the Nativity on a 60-foot-yacht in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

Latter-day Saints portray the Nativity on a 60-foot-yacht in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

For five nights along shoreline of Newport Beach Harbor, viewers could see a variety of decorated boats — one of which featured a live Nativity.

This Christmas season marked the fifth year Latter-day Saints in southern California have participated in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.

Each night from Dec. 14-18, local members dressed up and portrayed the Nativity aboard a 60-foot-long yacht decorated with Christmas lights.

“They’re reminded about the true meaning of Christmas,” said Jeff Shields, organizer of the Church’s boat entry, in a news release on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

“It’s a very spiritual thing to just watch the people on the docks and in the boats and in the windows and see the reactions. And some people cheer and applaud and are excited. Other people just stop what they’re doing. Small children grab their mom and say, ‘Look, it’s Jesus.’”

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A banner reads “Wise Men Still Seek Him” on the Church’s entry in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The annual boat parade

The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is in its 114th year, according to the release. It stretches the 14-mile circumference of Newport Harbor and takes 30 to 40 minutes to watch.

Event cochair David Beek said this year’s parade had more than 100 vessels. Over 1 million people were expected to watch.

“We make it a point — and I particularly make it a point — to call this the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade,” Beek said, emphasizing the word Christmas. “It’s not the holiday parade. It’s not the Newport Beach boat parade. It’s the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. And I emphasize that to everybody.”

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The Church’s entry in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is shown on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. The event spanned five days and included more than 100 decorated boats that toured the entire shoreline of the Newport Beach Harbor in California.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In previous years, the Church’s boat has been recognized for originality (third place, 2017), animation and special effects (second place, 2018) and best music (2019 and 2021).

Shields said, “It’s wonderful to think that in such a secular age the Lord is reaching out in small ways and touching hearts — and who knows how far they will go.”

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Onlookers react to a 60-foot yacht portraying a live Nativity by local Latter-day Saints entered in the 114th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. More than 100 festively decorated boats toured the entire shoreline of the Newport Beach Harbor in California on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. Over a million people were anticipated to watch the parade this year.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

What participants said

Lileigh Issac, who portrayed Jesus’s mother, Mary, during the parade, shared her experience: “It felt like I was in her shoes, that the Savior was born and that He was in my arms and that He was going to be the Savior of the world. I could see the look in people’s faces, how it just made them feel good. And I feel like that’s really important today.”

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Lileigh Issac portrays Mary in a live Nativity on top of a 60-foot yacht in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mikey McCullough, who played Joseph, added: “We were the only Christ-themed boat. Everyone just kind of went silent and [was in awe] as we went by. It was just wonderful to watch.”

His sister Hazel McCullough played an angel, standing above Mary and Joseph, pointing the audience to the Christ child below to her left.

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Hazel McCullough portrays the angel in a live Nativity on top of a 60-foot yacht in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“It’s the best role because everyone’s looking at you — and then you direct them to look at Christ our Savior,” Hazel McCullough said. “The whole meaning of Christmas is Christ’s birth and Him coming to save us and be our loving Savior.”

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