Tag Archives: Ships

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