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Salute to the Columbia and Willamette Christmas Ships of 2013

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The 2013 Christmas Ships have thrilled hundreds. The boat decorations are put away and the skippers are getting ready to celebrate Christmas with their families. But you know what? You made Christmas for us. The Christmas Ships are a tradition not to be missed in Portland, Oregon.

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The Christmas Ships, an all volunteer fleet, sail on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers during two weeks in December. For close to 60 years, privately owned vessels have paraded on the rivers, stopping to circle and wow onlookers gathered on bridges, shorelines and riverside restaurants.

In most weather, 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!

This is just a big thank you to the Christmas Ships volunteers. Our Christmas is special, thanks to you.

A full schedule for the Columbia and Willamette fleets, as well as a link for donations can be found at They also have a Facebook Page.

Christmas Fun in Portland


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