Boat owners will be getting into the holiday spirit when they decorate their vessels for the Tri-Cities' annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade, which will float along the Columbia River on Friday and Saturday.
The public may view the parade from the many parks along the river, but the best views are from Columbia Park and Clover Island in Kennewick, and Howard Amon Park and Columbia Point in Richland on the Benton County side of the river, said Mark Showalter, parade chairman.
"This has always been a community that's had an active boating segment but obviously not in December -- but when you have these boats and still want to go boating, this allows them to go out and celebrate the community and holidays.
"And it is kind of fun," Showalter said.
The parade begins at 6 p.m. at Clover Island in Kennewick.
The boats then proceed to Howard Amon Park in Richland, arriving there around 7:10 p.m., before returning to Clover Island. They turn around at the Richland Red Lion.
An awards party takes place after the parade. Awards for the three best decorated boats are given out. Boat captains and their passengers typically then enjoy seafood chowder, compliments of Cedars Restaurant, Showalter said.
The Clover Island Yacht Club organizes the parade, which has been going on for more than 40 years, Showalter said.
Participation varies each year, but the parade averages 20 to 25 boats, ranging in size from big cruisers to open fishing boats, Showalter said.
He said 34 boats participated in 2005.
"We've had as few as 12 boats and as many as 25 in the past three years," he said. "Last year we had to break ice around the harbor to get the boats out. Some years we've had winds come up and that hasn't allowed us to finish."