Thursday, December 20 at 7:00pm
Columbia & Willamette Rivers Portland, OR 97209
The Christmas Ships Parade started in 1954 with one lone sailboat from Portland Yacht Club. Bows of green with some ribbon were tied along the rails, and it paraded on the rivers. The next year, the parade started to grow. Today, The Christmas Ship Fleet averages about 55 to 60 boats between the Columbia and Willamette River fleets. Things have changed from the first lone ship. Now the displays are brightly lit and can be seen from bank to bank on each river.
The Portland tradition packs restaurants along the two rivers. Many reservations are made a year n advance. Many hotel rooms are booked by mid-summer. Corporation Christmas parties are scheduled around the Christmas Ship Parade schedule.
Each boat owner designs and builds their own lighted Christmas display. Many of the displays can be seen each year, but new boats join the flotilla each year and bring with them new Christmas-oriented lighted exhibits. As skippers retire, they also hand down their well-known displays so the tradition continues. Even though not all boats make it out every night of the two weeks the ships parade on the rivers of Portland, most do. For many of the boat owners, this is a family Christmas tradition.