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They moved the holiday regatta to their swimming pool.

"There is nothing-absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats," declares the Water Rat in The Wind in the Willows. Messing about with boats runs a close second, as guests at the annual Ables' Island Parade of Lights party have learned over the past 10 years.

When Kathy and Ray Ables lived on Balboa Island, California, they invited friends to enjoy the evening procession of lighted yachts held every December. When they moved inland to Claremont, they decided to carry on the tradition in their back-yard pool.

Each year, guests are invited to build boats for the competition; the only requirements are that the creations be lighted, and they must float. Entry fee is a bottle of wine.

Memorablc entries have included a floating submarine sandwich, a cribbage board with appended outriggers, and a saltdough Noah's ark that ended up a soggy mess at the bottom of the pool.

The Ables mail a series of three announcements. The first goes out a month before the party so people can start on their boats. Next comes a schedule of events: 6 o'clock, hoisting of the cocktail flag and appointing of judges; 6:15, launch ramp opens; 6:30, registration of boats and bribing of the judges; 6:45, marshalling of boats and sweetening of the bribes; 7, parade and judging begin; 7:45, dinner, with entry fees inspected and consumed; 8:30, awarding of trophies for a sweepstakes winner, for first and second places in both man- and motor-powered divisions, and for an "at least you tried" contender. The third notice is a simple follow-up reminder.

It all adds up to a lively kind of party that's easy to give. As Kathy Ables says, "Anyone with a pool can do it."
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Title Annotation:Ables' Island Parade of Lights
Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1988
Words:295
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