By Mary Jo O’Neill

December 2nd dawned bright and beautiful, perfect Southern California weather to work on decorations and costumes for WSA’s entry in the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. The theme, announced in mid-October, was “Let’s Dance!” Showing my age, I immediately thought of having a Disco Party. After Jeannea Jordan graciously agreed to let us transform Chekkerrs into a disco, I ordered a 42” beach ball on Amazon with plans to turn into a glittery disco ball as the focal point of our decorations. With that in hand, plus some disco strobes and black lights, Melody Kanschat and I headed down to Chekkerrs one evening to test out my ideas. As darkness fell, we plugged in our lights and were happily surprised to see that the lights were going to work as hoped and the disco party planning shifted into high gear.

In the parking lot of SMWYC on December 2nd, a group of willing and able volunteers showed up. Suzy Curry was on scene early with coffee and bagels for everyone. With Barbara Morris directing the creative team, Monique and Diane Larson cut out lettering, Mike Machala and Jeannea worked on the disco dancer silhouettes, Rita Kean and Deborah Hansen made felt buttons, collars and belts and anything else that needed to be done. Jeannea and Carolyn Allport made an emergency run to Home Depot for some last-minute supplies. Melody and Malcolm headed off to purchase our brand-new generator. Jana Davis worked on fixing the lettering to our black foam core board and everyone had a hand at putting on the neon lights outlining our sign. Then we took the WSA DISCO DIVAS sign into a dark corner of the storage space, turned on the neon lights and lit it all up with a black light. It looked amazing and we knew we were on to something special!

Later that afternoon, the dancing elves came to my place to work on their costumes and their absolutely awesome dance routine. Jana Davis was our lead choreographer, with ample assistance and support from Barbara Morris, Monique Delmar, Wendy Northup, Carolyn Allport, Suzy Curry, and Sunshine Jen. Diane Larson stepped in to complete our chorus line later that week.

A week later, on December 9th, the day finally arrived. A small army of volunteers showed up at Chekkerrs and promptly got to work rigging the boat. The disco silhouettes were taped to the boat liner, Christmas lights hung from the mast, disco lights and black lights strategically placed to create that disco feel. About 2:00, our newly purchased generator was fired up and lights and sound system tested. Everything was in working order and we were ready to roll. A couple of hours later, Jeannea, our skipper, Melody, our spotter, our eight dancing elves and I were on board and sent off with well wishes from our faithful volunteers. Out in the channel as the sky grew dark, we fired up the generator and turned on the lights. The party was on!

A couple of hours later, we were again greeted by a group of volunteers as Jeannea eased Chekkerrs back into her slip and our dancers got to sit down for the first time. With the help of many hands, quick work was made of getting Chekkerrs back to her pre-disco state. And the next day, WSA was awarded Best Sailboat of the 2017 Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade!

An event like this does not just happen. It takes a small army to create and put it all together. I want to thank everyone who stepped up to help — with special shout-outs to:

Jeannea Jordan for graciously letting us use Chekkerrs and for skippering her the night of the parade.

Melody Kanschat for being instrumental in rigging Chekkerrs and helping navigate the channel the night of the parade.

Barbara Morris for her expertise and help with the overall disco design and vision for the elf costumes.

Our tireless dancers — Jana Davis, Monique Delmar, Wendy Northup, Sunshine Jen, Suzy Curry, Diane Larson, Carolyn Allport and Barbara Morris.

Other Volunteers included Malcolm Page, Deborah Hansen, Diane Hubner, Mike Gitchell, Coco Leigh, Susana Hernandez-Araico, Rita Kean, Mike Machala, Brad and Angie Benam, Karyn Jones, Karen Kuchel, Patricia Rose, Cloyd Milton and Maria Langford. If I haven’t included you, please accept my apology and sincere thanks for your help.