Christmas ships scheduled to tour this week along the Columbia River


The Christmas Ships Parade, now in its 66th year, began with one decorated sailboat in 1954 and has since grown to over 70 participating boats

Clark County residents will have an opportunity to view the annual Christmas Ships Parade along the Columbia River this week.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, some events and activities associated with the annual event have been impacted. However, volunteers and organizers are excited to continue the parade this year. The lighted boat parade is an event that people can enjoy and view safely this holiday season.

Clark County residents will have an opportunity to view the annual Christmas Ships Parade along the Columbia River this week. Photo by Mike Schultz

Organizers ask that those viewing the Christmas Ships Parade leave plenty of space between spectators, wear a mask, and follow all other protocols to keep themselves and others safe from the spread of COVID-19. 

The Christmas Ships Parade, now in its 66th year, began with one decorated sailboat in 1954 and has since grown to over 70 participating boats. The entirely volunteer-operated event runs for 15 nights during December and travels the Willamette and Columbia Rivers in the Portland Metro area providing opportunities for communities to view it from the riverfront, restaurants, parks, neighborhoods and waysides along the rivers. Several cities along the rivers have tied their holiday events to the parade schedule.  

“The Christmas Ships Parade is a treasured tradition for many families and community members.  For 66 years Christmas Ships small and large have paraded with brightly lit, colorful, and thematically decorated displays to celebrate the holiday season.  A 100 percent volunteer-run organization, Christmas Shippers spend countless hours on the chilly river waters to bring smiles to young and old alike.  Excited each year to launch the season, we look forward to carrying on the tradition.  Once you participate in the Christmas Ships Parade, whether as a Captain or a spectator, you will make it a tradition of your own,” says Kelly Marks, Christmas Ships Parade Board and fleet member.  “The Parade is about more than Christmas.  It represents family, community, celebration and hope.  It is a positive and uplifting experience unlike any other.”

Volunteers dedicate over 3,000 hours in training, meetings, outreach, logistics, and the actual time in the parade. Parade volunteers also partner with various charities throughout the year such as Fallen Firefighters, Ronald McDonald House, William Temple House, Portland Fire & Rescue Toy and Joy Makers, and Columbia River Fire & Rescue Toy N Joy and Holiday Hope. 

More information, including the schedule of where the Christmas Ships Parade can be viewed on which dates, can be found on their website at: www.christmasships.org.

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