You know it's Christmas time in Portland, Oregon when the Christmas Ships sail on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. For over 60 years, privately owned vessels have paraded on the rivers, stopping to circle and wow onlookers gathered on bridges, shorelines and riverside restaurants.
Fleet on Both Rivers
Most every night for two weeks through the week of Christmas, the fleet will be out on the rivers. All skippers are volunteers and so you'll see changes in the 50 - 60 boats from night to night. Skippers have other parties to attend!
Each Christmas Ship handles their own expenses for fuel and decorations (some are quite elaborate). Donations are received from restaurants and hotels that are located on the waterfront. Donations are used for Christmas Ships, Inc. the coordinating body for this massive annual effort.
You can enjoy the Christmas Ships from Portland, certainly, but if you check the schedule you'll also find other locations such as Vancouver and Camas, WA where you can enjoy the spectacle.
The night I saw the ships, I was with a spirited group at Joe's Crab Shack, located in Vancouver, WA close to the I-5 Bridge. The ships paraded twice in back of the restaurant where onlookers gathered on the outside deck. We had carefully checked the schedule so we would know when to look for the ships. And, they were right on time!
Port of Vancouver Open House
You might enjoy seeing the ships from Vancouver’s port area. The Port of Vancouver is inviting the public to see the Christmas Ships, enjoy holiday treats and learn about the waterfront redevelopment at a Dec. 5 open house at the port’s Terminal 1.
The event is free and family-friendly and runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the WareHouse ’23 event area in the former Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, 100 Columbia St., Vancouver.
Activities are planned between the start of the event and the Christmas Ships’ anticipated arrival at Terminal 1 around 8 p.m. The Vancouver Community Concert Band will play live music, and coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and a cash bar proved by WareHouse ’23 will be available.
Also, the port’s waterfront project staff will be present to provide information on the plans to redevelop Terminal 1, the 10-acre original site of the port and home of its first warehouse. In the future the location might include a public marketplace, hotel, commercial and retail space, and visitor amenities.
No formal presentation will be given; rather the community is encouraged to causally drop in.
Parking is available at Terminal 1 as well as along Columbia Way. Outdoor ship viewing will also be available at the high dock above the amphitheater.
A full schedule for the Columbia and Willamette fleets, as well as a link for donations can be found at www.christmasships.org.
They also have a Facebook Page and will tweet updates @christmasships with either #ColumbiaFleet or #WillametteFleet