Christmas Ship owners are getting ready to set sail for their 59th year as residents make plans to watch the colorful flotillas during the parade's 2013 holiday season.
The Christmas Ship Parade will open Saturday, November 30th, in Camas-Washougal, Washington. The Christmas Ships will start in the Portland-Vancouver area Friday December 6th, running for 14 nights through Friday December 21st. There will not be a parade on Monday, December 9th.
The two fleets will join for North Portland Harbor on the 6th, St. Helens and Columbia City Saturday December 7th, and from Scappoose to North Portland through Multnomah Channel along Highway 30 on the 8th. On Saturday, December 14th, the two fleets will again combine to travel to Lake Oswego. The following night, December 15th, the combined fleet will parade in the St. John's area on the Willamette River.
Many restaurants and hotels along the Columbia and Willamette rivers are already taking reservations with nights already booked for some evenings.
The boats, 14 to 65 feet long, are brightly decorated for the holiday season. The ships draw thousands of residents each night to the banks of the rivers for their performances. Up to 60 holiday boats are expected to make up the two fleets.
The privately owned vessels come from Portland, Vancouver, McMinnville, Salem and Hood River areas. Some of the ships owners have been part of Christmas tradition for more than 30 years with many being part of the Christmas Ship fleet for over 20 years. Each skipper is responsible for their own expenses, including fuel and insurance for their vessels over the two weeks. This can run into the hundreds of dollars, which in itself is a testament to the dedication and enthusiasm the Christmas Ship skippers bring to the organization, and the community. The organization accepts donations to help cover the cost of maintaining, managing and promoting the organization, but none of these donations go to the skippers, their crews, or their boats. Christmas Ships, Inc. is an all-volunteer organization, with no paid staff or officers, just a large group of friendly individual volunteers/skippers who give back to the community they love.
A full schedule for the Columbia and Willamette fleets, as well as a link for donations can be found at www.christmasships.org. For Skipper interviews or other requests, send us a note through the Christmas Ship contact page.