The "Floating Parade of 1,000 Lights" begins at 8 tonight in Long Beach, but families who want to enjoy the holiday festivities and have dinner before the boats sail by may start arriving as early as 4.
Dozens of holiday-bedecked boats from local marinas--all dwarfed by the Queen Mary in the background--will motor by Shoreline Village, past the jetty to the center of the channel and circle around again, making a few passes. The crowds will be heaviest around Parker's Lighthouse restaurant, where the official reviewing stand is, but the view is also good down by the jetty. Warm clothes and blankets are advised, folding chairs optional.
Beginning in late afternoon, choral groups and brass bands will be on hand to serenade the early arrivals. Most village shops will be open and the dinner possibilities range from comfortable restaurants like Parker's Lighthouse (seafood) with a few window-view seats, and Mardi Gras (Mexican food) to fast-food stops for deli and Greek food, pizza and quiches.
Santa Claus will arrive on the last boat and gather up all the children for a free ride on the vintage carrousel. To ward off ocean chill, the German bakery will be selling hot chocolate.
To reach Shoreline Village, take the Long Beach Freeway south to the end, where it turns into Shoreline Drive. Continue to Pine Avenue. To your immediate right is the Shoreline Village parking lot. Information: (213) 590-8427.
The Other Side of the Keyboard--If your child takes piano lessons, this Sunday's open house at the American Institute of Piano Technicians is a rare opportunity to see more than 20 grands and uprights in various states of restoration. Visitors will be able to see into the pianos, and students at the school will be on hand to answer questions. The institute is located in part of the old Pabst Brewery, just north of downtown Los Angeles, at 650 Moulton Ave. Since Moulton Avenue is a block-long, dead-end street, best directions are to exit the Golden State Freeway at Main Street, head south a few blocks toward downtown. The open house is 1 to 5 p.m.; light refreshments will be served. Information: (213) 223-2010.
Children's Book and Entertainment Festival--Today's holiday fund-raiser at Wildwood School, 3111 Olympic Blvd., a private school in Santa Monica, features an ambitious book sale (all new, all for children, and all tax-deductible), booths selling homemade chili and bean soup, a bake sale, Ferris wheel, moon-bounce rides and arts-and-crafts booths. Young festival-goers can make mobiles and banners and have their faces painted. "We Tell Stories," professional storytellers who involve children in their readings, will perform at 1 and 2 p.m. Admission is free, rides are 50 cents, shows are $3, unlimited arts and crafts are $5. Information: (213) 469-2224.
Orange Picking--Irvine Valley College in Irvine throws open its orange groves this weekend to all pickers. Bring bags, boxes, ladders and pick as many Valencia oranges as you can carry. Students will be out there with scales, charging pickers 15 cents a pound. Parking is best on Jeffrey Road and Irvine Center Drive. Picking hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., today and Sunday. Information: (714) 559-9300.
Hanukkah Faire--Temple Valley Beth Shalom's holiday fund-raiser gets bigger every year. This Sunday's festival will include games, carnival rides, a gift boutique, live music, dancing, ethnic foods (American, Israeli, Greek), and 55 vendors selling new merchandise. Fair hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. Information: (818) 788-6000. Free admission.
The Nutcracker--The Westside Ballet's production of this Christmas classic has been filling local auditoriums for years. This weekend's performances at El Camino College's Marsee Auditorium, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, is suitable for preschoolers on up. Before the shows, local choral groups will sing Christmas carols in the lobby. Tickets for the 2 p.m. matinee today are $8 for adults, $5 for children. For performances at 7:30 tonight and 2 p.m. Sunday, tickets are $12, $10, and $8, with $1 off for children. Information: (213) 329-5345.
Griffith Park Hikes--The Sierra Club sponsors family walks in the park on the second Saturday of every month. Next Saturday interested hikers should meet at the merry-go-round parking lot at 9 a.m. for a 2 1/2- to three-hour walk to Mt. Hollywood. Leader Bill Schleifer paces the five-mile hike according to the group's abilities and encourages people without hiking background to participate. Babies in backpacks and children old enough to finish the trek are welcome. Children often find more stamina if they bring a friend or two along, according to Sierra Club's Gene Andreasen. Water canteens and good walking shoes are advised. Information: (213) 933-6572.
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