PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Strong current and debris in the Willamette River kept the Christmas Ships from sailing Saturday.
The nautical parade was scheduled to depart from RiverPlace in downtown Portland and end in Lake Oswego, but the condition of the river had organizers worried about safety.
They were also worried about about transient and squatter boaters, who made the event uncomfortable and unwelcoming for many last year. But organizers say thanks to an effort by Portland parks employees, the area is a much cleaner place this year.
“Last year we had, you know, meth and we had people chopping firewood. They had open stoves in their boats, but they really weren’t boats, because they couldn’t go out, they didn’t have sails and they didn’t have motors they were just shelters for people who needed better housing. Very dangerous,” Laura Scott told KOIN 6 News.
Scott said after the event last year, the Christmas ship community started working with the parks department, the river patrol and the governor’s office to see what could be done about homeless boaters. She said this year, the event is like a different world.
Even though the ships didn’t sail, the group still held a meet and greet on the dock in front of the RiverPlace hotel so people could see the decorated boats up close.