The “Christmas Ship”, “Holiday Boat Parade” or “Christmas Ship Festival” whatever you call it, “tis the season” and it is a nice event to enjoy with friends and family. My kids loved the boat parade, bonfire and refreshments and looked forward to this event every year since age two. They continue to look forward to it as young adults. We would park at Pritchard Beach, head over to Maya’s for dinner or fried ice cream-(yum!) and return to the Pritchard Beach in time for the arrival of the boats. Performances in the Southend are tonight: 7:50-8:10 Pritchard Beach Park, and 8:25-8:45 Seward Park.
Seattle has hosted a parade of boats for more than 60 years. The first boat parade, the “Seattle Civic Christmas Ship Festival’ was organized by the Seattle Parks Department in 1949. Parks coordinated the parade until 1994 when Argosy Cruises took over the event. The Argosy Ship is the large lighted white boat that floats on local waterways with a Choir on board, from early December until December 23. Upon arrival, the boats line up facing the shore and there is a short musical interlude from the on-board choir. This usually concludes with a holiday sing-a-long.
The Christmas Ships’ appearance at Pritchard and most beaches also includes a Bon Fire and hot chocolate. If you are driving along the shores of Lake Washington during one of the boats excursions, you cannot miss the boat parade. It is quite spectacular against the night skyline. You are also likely to hear music from the boat in most areas of the neighborhood as it arrives. The music is followed by the parade of lighted boats with the Christmas Ship leading the way. Although Pritchard does not have luminaries that light the pathway to the beach, Mt. Baker and several other darker beaches do. The lighted white bags at Mt. Baker usually cover quite a distance, so it is also very pretty.
I always thought it would be nice to host a holiday open house and boat parade viewing, since we have a view of the lake and boats from our deck on the night that it cruises to Gene Coulon Beach in Renton. (December 3 this year.) I thought inviting friends and family over for hot chocolate and cookies would be a nice holiday gift. However, the parade’s weeknight schedule and my children’s desire to see the boats and bonfire prevented us from doing this. We had friends in West Seattle and Leschi who hosted wonderful open houses when the boats arrived near their homes. They were always warm and comforting. In addition, an open house is the perfect excuse to clean and spruce up the home for the holidays. Yes, I need a little motivation! This year it will not happen. My son is hosting a viewing party from his home and has already started decorating.
The Rainier Beach Yacht Club also plays host to a boat parade. This year, its “Lighted Boat Cruise” is on Friday, December 3. If you own a boat, contact the club. I am sure they would welcome your participation. The club cruises from the Parkshore Marina (adjacent to the Rainier Beach boat dock) and will join the Argosy boats as they journey to Gene Coulon Park. The yacht club cruise usually catches me by surprise. I look out the window and there they are! Now you and I have the date and can invite friends and family over for seasonal refreshments, holiday cheer and a view of the boat parade. As on the 3rd there is no bon fire at Pritchard Beach, just the viewing of the boats as they cruise the waterway.
If you do not have a lake view from your home, there are numerous viewing points throughout the community and on most blocks. So make hot chocolate, spiced cider and/or spiced wine, bake or pick up a few dozen cooks and enjoy this holiday spectacle with friends and family, even if it means bundling up and walking a block to see the boats. Oh the joys of living in a maritime community! Have a happy and joyful holiday season. And remember, “The best gifts are tied with heart strings.”
Rainier Beach Yacht Club-Lighted Boat Cruise
Dec 3, 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Description: All boaters are welcome to join us. Meet off Parkshore Marina
about 6:45PM and we will cruise along the south shore of Lake Washington and
will arrive at Gene Coulon Park as lights are turned on at 7:30PM. Rainier
Beach Yacht Club.
Argosy Christmas Ship Festival
Monday, December 6
CHOIR: Snohomish County Windjammers
Depart: Leschi 7:00pm, Return: 9:30pm
7:50-8:10 Pritchard Beach, 8:25-8:45 Seward Park
Argosy Cruises – www.argosycruises.com
Spiced or Mulled Wine
* 2 bottles red wine (1/2 cup water
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 3 tablespoons of honey
* 4 sticks cinnamon
* 5 whole cloves
* 1 orange
* 1 lemon
Pour water into pot on stove. Add the sugar, cinnamon and cloves into the water.
· Bring to a slow boil for 5 minutes and stir. Remove from heat.
Add the wine. (You do not need to use expensive wine! $ 2 buck chuck or any
red table wine will work.)
Add the actual orange and lemon, sliced up. Warm this on low heat for 40
minutes (do NOT boil).
Strain and serve!
Follow the recipe above, substituting 2 quarts of apple cider for the wine,
the white sugar for brown sugar, omit the honey and add 5-6 whole allspice
and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Strain and serve!
Note: These drinks can be made in a percolator. When I use a percolator, I
also use a coffee filter to avoid the need to strain.
This story was originally published on SouthendSeattle.com in 2010, but has been updated with 2013 performance information.