Argosy Cruises will provide a Christmas Ship performance at the beach later that night.
Argosy Cruises will provide a Christmas Ship performance at the beach later that night.

When Argosy Cruises posts its schedule for its Christmas Ship Festival, that’s when Cheryl Jones ramps up work getting Madison Park’s festivities lined up for the holiday tradition.

“We don’t really coordinate,” said Jones, who is office administrator and transaction coordinator with Windermere Real Estate in Madison Park. “We just plan to be there when the ships show up.”

Argosy Cruises has been leading a fleet of illuminated ships for its Christmas Ship Festival since 1949, and Madison Park has made it a celebration since the beginning.

Seattle Parks and Recreation handles the bonfire along Madison Park Beach, where people congregate to watch the ships as they traverse Lake Washington.

The Spirit of Seattle is the official Christmas Ship, and is followed by a parade of local boaters.

This year ships are set to leave Lake Union and arrive at Madison Park Beach at 8:10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17. They will first provide a light show and musical performance at Madrona Park at 7:35 p.m. as the ships loop back to Lake Union. The Northwest Girlchoir will perform.

Jones said she’s confirmed Santa will be back at the Madison Park Bathhouse, where children, adults and pets can get their pictures taken and printed that same night for free. The Madison Park Community Council cosponsors the event, and president Karen Kane coordinates use of the Bathhouse.

“So they’ll have the nice photos ready for you right there with the folders,” she said. “We had a good turnout last year. We had lots of dogs.”

Madison Park Hardware is donating hot chocolate, and NW Sports Rehab and Parkshore will bring the cookies again this year.

Because so many spectators had wanted to return to the Bathhouse to warm up with refreshments after the ships past last year, Jones said that portion of the event will go longer this year, from 6-9 p.m.

Argosy Cruises will have another Christmas Ship event on Wednesday, Dec. 18, that includes a performance in front of the Seattle Tennis Club at 7:25 p.m. The Song of Seattle choir will come along for that voyage.