Christmas ships return to the Columbia and Willamette Rivers for nightly parades

Featured image: The lead ship in the Christmas Ship Parade on the Columbia River, December 6, 2016 (photo by Cheryl Landes)

In 1954, a lone ship from the Portland Yacht Club began the city’s Christmas Ship Parade tradition by cruising the Columbia and Willamette Rivers with green bows tied to its rails. The next year, more boats joined the yacht in the parade, and the event continued to grow. This year, 60 boats are participating.

From December 2-18, separate fleets travel both rivers or combine for one grand parade. Routes vary. Spectators can watch the parades from boat ramps, parks, viewpoints, and restaurants with river views. View the nightly schedule, detailed maps of the parade routes, and recommended viewing locations on the Christmas Ships website.

From 8-10 p.m. on Saturday, December 17, and 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, December 18, both fleets are assembling in front of the RiverPlace Marina at 1750 Harbor Place in Portland for a “Meet and Greet.” View the decorated boats up close and talk to the skippers and crews.

For last-minute updates, such as weather cancellations, check the Christmas Ships’ Facebook or Twitter pages. Position reports are also posted most nights on Twitter under the hashtags #ColumbiaFleet or #WillametteFleet.

The Road Runner, dressed in Santa’s hat, races on a ship in the Christmas Ships Parade on the Columbia River on December 6, 2016. (photo by Cheryl Landes)

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