Christmas Ship owners are getting ready to set sail for their 50th year as residents make plans to watch the colorful flotillas during the parade's 2014 holiday season.
The Christmas Ship Parade will open their 60th season on Friday, December 5th, in a combined fleet cruise down the Columbia River's North Portland Harbor, this being an up-close and personal cruise in close proximity to the floating homes and marinas that line the inside of Hayden Island. The following night, the combined fleet will head upriver to the Port of Camas/Washougal for their annual cruise to the Mouth of the Gorge. For the next 14 days, the fleets will mix combined fleet and separate cruises on the lower Columbia and Willamette Rivers, culminating with a grand finale on the Willamette River on December 21st..
The two fleets will join for North Portland Harbor on the 5th, St. Helens and Columbia City Saturday December 13th, and from Scappoose to North Portland through Multnomah Channel along Highway 30 on the 14th. On Saturday, December 20th, the two fleets will again combine to travel to Lake Oswego. The following night, December 21st, the combined fleet will end the season with a 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. And with this being the 60th Anniversary of the Christmas Ships Parade, there is no doubt the skippers will go all out to make this one very special year.
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.