One year after California’s worst wildfire tore through Santa Barbara county, stripping bare the hills which quickly collapsed in mudslides and deadly flooding, the community celebrated its resilience by renewing a longtime Christmas tradition.

In 2017, the 31st annual Parade of Lights was canceled due to toxic air quality and evacuations during the Thomas Fire, so this year residents flocked to the seaside to watch boats lit with Christmas lights parade down the beaches, as if rising from the ashes.

The annual boat parade featured 30 vessels motoring and sailing in festive colors—and even a lone guy who decorated himself and his paddle board to regale the visitors along the Santa Barbara Coastline.

A five minute fireworks display topped off the night with a bang.

The region, which has suffered from a multi-year drought, was also recently blessed with a two-day rain event that broke one county record and dumped more than four inches of precipitation on some county mountains.

Newcomers to Santa Barbara watched the parade aboard the Blue Dolphin

With the fresh memory of last year’s fire evacuations that left many searching for shelter, and businesses starved for customers during the normally busy holiday season, Santa Barbarians have regained their gratitude amidst their beautiful enclave aptly known as “The American Riviera”.

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