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The annual event will return to the riverfront, complete with a visit by Santa and holiday alpacas.

COURTESY FILE PHOTO: CITY OF ST. HELENS - The Christmas Ships parade past the St. Helens riverfront in 2021.A Christmas tradition awaits St. Helens visitors and residents Saturday, Dec. 10. It's the return of the Christmas Ships to the city's riverfront. The Christmas Ships Parade is scheduled to launch from the St. Helens city docks that evening and a holiday celebration takes place at the Columbia County Courthouse Plaza.

Events kick off from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with the Walk and Wave with Santa Claus, including Santa's little elves, at the plaza square.

The Christmas Ships Parade launches from the city docks at 6 p.m.

Also in the decorated plaza, there will be photo opportunities with the alpacas from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Live holiday music takes place from 5:45 p.m. to 8 p.m., featuring Tom Grant and Alyssa Schwary.

City Communications Officer Crystal King said it's not only a local attraction, but a regional event.

"We enjoy hosting the Christmas Ships Parade every year," King said. "It's obviously a regional tradition that many people love to watch."

King said: "In particular, the St. Helens city docks are a very unique location to watch the ships. You can get right up to the riverbank. There aren't very many places along the route where there is so much uninterrupted public access to view them."

In the past, even the COVID pandemic couldn't keep the ships away, although there were restrictions.

"We did still host the ships during the pandemic and had an altered holiday celebration in the Plaza Square," she said. "We hosted a distant Santa event where people could walk by and see Santa at the top of the courthouse steps."

Luckily, this year, the event will have more of its original flavor.

"This year, we're looking forward to having more people and less restrictions," King said. "With many of the other events that we've seen in the city this year, there have been much larger crowds as people are looking for a return to normalcy and things to do to celebrate the traditions that they've been used to in previous years."

The Christmas Ships Parade isn't just for locals. King says the event attracts folks from outside Columbia County.

"We do see people come from out of town, just like we attract people from the surrounding regions (Portland, Longview and beyond) during Spirit of Halloweentown time," she said. "They think it's a great location. I think people enjoy the smaller town feel that we provide."

The Christmas Ships Parade is operated by the nonprofit Christmas Ships Inc. The parade dates back to 1954 and is an annual holiday tradition on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

King is looking forward to the arrival of the ships.

"Absolutely," she said. "This is a great annual tradition that the city has hosted for over a decade, if not two decades, as far as the holiday celebration goes, paired with the Christmas Ships Parade."

King added, "It's nice to see the community able to come and celebrate the holidays as we did in the past."

You can learn more about the parade by visiting www.christmasships.org.

If you would like more information about the parade in St. Helens, you can contact King at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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