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Oceanside Harbor Days reels in thousands of visitors

OCEANSIDE — Thousands poured into the city for the annual Oceanside Harbor Days.

One of the biggest attractions came on Saturday afternoon when the U.S. Navy showcased its LCAC, or hovercraft, before several thousands of people. The massive fans to power the boat blasted spectators with sand as they watched the vehicle plow through the surf.

Also, pirates roamed the beach as visitors, especially the kids, were treated to Pirate Village, which showcased buccaneers and mermaids.

The event, which has been an Oceanside staple for more than 60 years, was once again a hit as about 20,000 people attended over two days, said Oceanside Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Events Kristi Hawthorne.

“Things went very well,” she said. “We had perfect weather … the kind of stuff we like to brag about. The weather brings out the crowds and puts everybody in a happy mood.”

One of the big highlights, Hawthorne added, was a pair of Arizona siblings who made their first appearance in the Nail ‘n Sail boatbuilding and sailing competition. With the help of their father, they constructed their boat and even made the finals of the racing, although they did not place.

In addition, the Tiki swim, which was held on Sept. 16, had its biggest field as hundreds of swimmers competed in a 1.2-mile or 2.4-mile swim into the harbor.

“They had record numbers of swimmers,” Hawthorne said. “We couldn’t be more pleased in how well it went. We are very appreciative to the city, our sponsors and all the volunteers.”

Harbor Days began in the 1960s before the harbor even existed. The city received word from the state it would be allowed to construct a recreational, small-craft harbor, so the City Council went all in on an event to celebrate its approval.

Anchoring the event were more than 200 arts and crafts vendors, a beer garden, food court and the Pirate Village, while the showcase events include two pirate costume contests for kids 12 and under and the ever popular Nail ‘n Sail.

As for next year, Harbor Days will be held on Sept. 21 and Sept. 22 and Hawthorne said she doesn’t expect any big changes to the event.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” she added.

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