Hundreds of thousands of holiday lights, giant whale sculptures, a surfing Santa and the popular Kiss Me Lane are up and aglow at Dana Point Harbor.

Palm trees and pine trees wrapped in blue and green line the medians along Dana Point Harbor Drive and giant Christmas trees surround the harbor’s entrance. There’s a candy cane lane that starts at Coffee Importers and a light tunnel spanning the walkway to Dana Wharf.

  • The giant letters of the #happyharbordays display located near the entrance to Dana Point Harbor at Golden Lantern and Dana Point Harbor Drive welcomes visitors to the 46th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Workers continue into the night to finish putting up the holiday lights and decorations in Dana Point Harbor during the first night of the 46th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Children play near the giant letters of the Happy Harbor Days display during the first night of the 46th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mikala, 9, and her sister Chloe Targos of Foothill Ranch pose for a photo under the giant holiday whale during the first night of the 46th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LIght covered trees along Dana Point Harbor Drive add to the festive mood during the first night of the 46th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Children run along the giant letters of the Happy Harbor Days display during the first night of the 46th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Families enjoy walk underneath the holiday lights display in Dana Point Harbor during the first night of the 46th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A couple and their dogs walk along giant holiday whale display during the first night of the 46th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Tomi Bowser, 2, left, and her mother Alex take a selfie near the giant holiday whale during the first night of the 46th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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The lights – an estimated 667,200 – will stay on until Jan. 3.

“It just changes everybody’s mood,” said Donna Kalez, who manages Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching, the harbor’s oldest business. “Everyone is so excited.”

Dana Wharf will hold socially distanced holiday wine cruises starting Sunday, Nov. 15, through the end of December. The vessel Dana Pride will lead off the harbor’s 46th annual Boat Parade of Lights.

The boat parade is an opportunity to get in the holiday spirit while spreading out. There are many vantage points throughout the harbor, at Heritage Park overlooking the bluffs and at Doheny State Beach from where spectators can space out and view the harbor lights and the boat parade.

The parade is scheduled Dec. 4-5 and 11-12, with boaters decorating their vessels to the theme of “Fiesta Holiday.” The Boat Parade of Lights is subject to change based on public health restrictions and recommendations, harbor officials said.

This year, Dana Point Harbor Partners – the Newport Beach developer group that is giving Dana Point Harbor a $330 million renovation – have added lights to the harbor’s island, including the illumination of the iconic Richard Henry Dana statue and the addition of a Christmas tree. Dana is the city’s namesake who penned “Two Years Before the Mast.”

“The harbor lights this year are so important and give people joy in a difficult year,” said Jim Miller, who operates Coffee Importers. “I think it will help everyone enjoy the holiday season and hopefully help harbor businesses.”

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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