Category Archives: Volunteer

Portland’s Christmas Ship Parade

The tradition, which is now the Christmas Ship Parade began in December of 1954 as a lone boat decorated with green bows floated on the waters of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.  The next year other boats joined it.  From this lonely beginning the parade has grown to include approximately 60 boats ranging from 14 to 65 feet in length.  The boats of today have lights so bright they can be seen on both sides of the Columbia.

Tree BoatChristmas Ships, Inc. is an all-volunteer non-profit (501(c) 3) organization that coordinates the two-week long event.  Not every ship is in the parade every night, but most of the owners do  make it every night of the parade.  The owner of each boat in the parade designs and creates the display on his vessel, provides his own fuel, and pays for his own event insurance.  Donations are used to offset incidental expenses of the corporation.

A few of the ships in the parade have been participating for 30 or more years.  As owners retire some of them have passed on their creations so that familiar displays continue in the parade.  People flock to the hotel, restaurants, and parks along the rivers – with reservations at some made a year in advance.  It is too late for this year, but the 2013 schedule will be posted at christmasshipps.org by the end of January.  People line the banks of both rivers and home owners flash their lights as the ships pass.  Many of the boats have small private parties onboard with friends and family while the dazzling flotilla is on parade.  If you want to get a closer look at the displays, the Portland Spirit, a 150 foot yacht cruises near the parade on two evenings.  You can book a dinner cruise and enjoy the sites from the two enclosed temperature controlled decks.

The parade takes different routes every night of the two week long parade.  Communities along the route plan their unique traditional celebrations to occur before or after the parade passes.  St. Helens, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, and St. Johns are just a few of the communities that plan events to coincide with the parade.

One morning during the parading season, the Christmas ships gather at Saltys award winning restaurant to collect toys for the Portland area Firefighters group Toy and Joy Makers.  The firefighters began collecting toys for children in need in 1914.  Today the donations of unwrapped new toys go toward the goal of seeing that no child in the Portland area goes without a new toy for Christmas.

The Christmas Ship Parade is among the many delightful holiday traditions in the Portland area.  Watching the parade is a wonderful way to spend a winter evening.  The boat owner work hard to create breathtaking displays for your entertainment.

The tradition, which is now the Christmas Ship Parade began in December of 1954 as a lone boat decorated with green bows floated on the waters of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.  The next year other boats joined it.  From this lonely beginning the parade has grown to include approximately 60 boats ranging from 14 to 65 feet in length.  The boats of today have lights so bright they can be seen on both sides of the Columbia.

Christmas Ships, Inc. is an all-volunteer non-profit (501(c) 3) organization that coordinates the two-week long event.  Not every ship is in the parade every night, but most of the owners do make it every night of the parade.  The owner of each boat in the parade designs and creates the display on his vessel, provides his own fuel, and pays for his own event insurance.  Donations are used to offset incidental expenses of the corporation.

A few of the ships in the parade have been participating for 30 or more years.  As owners retire some of them have passed on their creations so that familiar displays continue in the parade.  People flock to the hotel, restaurants, and parks along the rivers – with reservations at some made a year in advance.  It is too late for this year, but the 2013 schedule will be posted at christmasships.org by the end of January.  People line the banks of both rivers and home owners flash their lights as the ships pass.  Many of the boats have small private parties onboard with friends and family while the dazzling flotilla is on parade.  If you want to get a closer look at the displays, the Portland Spirit, a 150 foot yacht cruises near the parade on two evenings.  You can book a dinner cruise and enjoy the sites from the two enclosed temperature controlled decks.

The parade takes different routes every night of the two week long parade.  Communities along the route plan their unique traditional celebrations to occur before or after the parade passes.  St. Helens, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, and St. Johns are just a few of the communities that plan events to coincide with the parade.

Christmas ship 3One morning during the parading season, the Christmas ships gather at Saltys award winning restaurant to collect toys for the Portland area Firefighters group Toy and Joy Makers.  The firefighters began collecting toys for children in need in 1914.  Today the donations of unwrapped new toys go toward the goal of seeing that no child in the Portland area goes without a new toy for Christmas.

The Christmas Ship Parade is among the many delightful holiday traditions in the Portland area.  Watching the parade is a wonderful way to spend a winter evening.  The boat owner work hard to create breathtaking displays for your entertainment.

** Photographs courtesy of christmasships.org

Resources:

http://www.christmasships.org

http://www.ci.milwaukie.or.us/communityservices/christmas-ships-winter-solstice-bonfire-2011

http://www.ci.oswego.or.us/parksrec/christmas-ship-parade

http://www.portlandspirit.com/christmasships.php

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Filed under Christmas Lights, Christmas Ships, Toy and Joy Makers, Volunteer

Japanese Tsunami 18 Months Later

Many people around the world have forgotten about the tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in March of 2011.  The people of Japan and the people who live along the coast of North America are not among them.

The people of Japan remain overwhelmed by the enormity of their loss.  Whole villages were washed away.  Nearly 20,000 people are believed to have died during the tsunami.  Hundreds of families lost everything they owned.  Many of them are still living in one room temporary housing provided by the Japanese government.  Electricity is scarce.  Government buildings turned up their thermostats during the sweltering Japanese summer to 85 degrees, and asked business and homes to do the same.  Of the 50 nuclear reactors functioning at the time of what the Japanese refer to as Tohoku Earthquake; only two are still in operation.  The people demanded that they be closed after it turned out that reactor owners and the government had played down the severity of the disaster.  There is speculation that when the last two are shut down for maintenance in the spring of 2013, they may not go back online.

So far, most of what has arrived on Oregon’s shore is debris, unrecognizable.  However to the Japanese who are grieving, each object is precious.  It might have belonged to a lost loved one.  Anything that can be identified is a treasure.  KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Gary Horcher, spoke to some people he met at a shrine for the 74 children lost at an elementary school in Ishinomaki City.  They urged him to tell the American people that the things washing up on the beach are not garbage; they were someone’s personal belonging and should be treated with respect.

The Japanese people feel a responsibility for the debris that is floating toward the Pacific Coast of North America.  The Japanese Government has promised $6 million to the U.S. and Canada to help cover the cost of the cleanup.  In October 2012, a film crew from Japan visited the Oregon Coast and filmed portions of a documentary about how the tsunami debris is affecting the lives of people on the West Coast.  The documentary will discuss how the cleanup is being done, show volunteers cleaning a beach, talk about ship safety in regard to large pieces of debris, and explain the dangers to the environment of the coast from invasive species.  The documentary will be shown on Japanese television in November.  The Japanese people are very concerned that their problem has become the problem of others.

The people on the West Coast of North America hold no animosity toward the Japanese.  Natural disasters are not the responsibility of the country where they occur.  S.O.L.V. (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) is coordinating volunteer efforts to keep the beaches clean of debris.  S.O.L.V. along with Surfrider Foundation and other volunteer groups have worked 21 weekends.  One weekend in September, volunteers from youths to senior citizens and coastal residents and inlanders removed a total of 51,600 pounds of debris.

Most of the debris is barely recognizable, but a few items have reached the beach in pristine condition.  Items such as a football, a volleyball, (the owners were identified by the names on the balls) a Harley Davidson motorcycle (tracked down by its license plate number), and a few other things have arrived in good condition and been returned to their owners.  A fishing vessel, that arrived at an island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, has not been claimed although it appears to be in good condition.

Volunteers are asked to call 211 if they find an item that can be identified or has monetary value.  They are also cautioned to stay away from hazardous items such as oil, gas and chemical containers, and call the same number so authorities can remove them safely.

It will be years before all the debris reaches the shores of western North America.  The Japanese are trying to rebuild their lives.  The Americans and Canadians who live along the coast are working to minimize the damage to the ecosystems along the shore.  We may never forget.

Resources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19812373

http://www.seasidesignal.com/news/article_5cc86058-196b-11e2-bf15-001a4bcf887a.html

http://www.beachconnection.net/news/debriscle092412_1243.php

http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/japanese-say-tsunami-debris-contains-sacred-relics/nScCk/

http://www.oceanleadership.org/2012/ghost-ship-off-canada-heralds-arrival-of-tsunami-debris/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/03/120309-japan-fukushima-anniversary-energy-shortage/

http://www.oceanleadership.org/2012/the-tsunami-debris-washed-from-japan-to-oregon/

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Filed under Environment, Natural Resources, Tsunami, Volunteer