Boaters gearing up for Tri-Cities holiday tradition

Clover Island Yacht Club

Kennewick – The Clover Island Yacht Club is looking for boaters to join in the annual Christmas Lighted Boat Parade.  The parade has been lighting up the Columbia River since the 1960s.

Michael Rhodes is the docks director for the yacht club, and he’s taken part in the parade for several years.

“Seeing it from the parade view on the shore – it’s pretty different.” Rhodes says. “People flashing their car lights and they’re parked all the way along the park up the river…it’s just great to see people involved.”

Rhodes is in charge of getting people signed  up for the parade this year, and he says there are only a few requirements. Yacht club membership is not one of them.

“You have to meet all the safety features; you have to have a boaters’ safety card, as it applies, and you have to attend the [skipper’s] meeting. You have to have working navigation lights – that’s a big one.”

When it comes to decorative lights – Rhodes says the only limit is your own creativity. Boaters in the past have run the gamut from a string of lights to entire themed holiday displays.

“Everything from Seahawks to Grinch to giant Santas – there’s no limit on what you can do,” Rhodes says. “Some people are quite crazy, because they’re just in a tiny little open boat in 20-degree weather.”

Rhodes himself decorates with lighted reindeer.  You’ll see his boat leading the parade from the cable bridge to Howard Amon Park and back on December 2 and 3.

If you want to participate, you have to contact Rhodes before November 29th to sign up, and then attend a short meeting at 6:30PM on November 30th.

If you want to watch from the shore, just pick a spot on the shoreline! The parade is expected to last from 6:00-9:00 both nights.

Call (509) 554-6763 or email to sign up.