The Braum’s Holiday River Parade Returns to the Boathouse District

Media Contact:
Kelli Teel (405) 552-4040 ext 4993
[email protected]

OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 8, 2023) – RIVERSPORT is kicking the holiday season off early with the Braum’s Holiday River Parade on Saturday, Nov. 11, in the Boathouse District. The family-friendly event will feature skiing elves, a parade of decorated boats, holiday food and drink specials, and fireworks to end the evening.  

Parade boats will be decorated with holiday lights and displays by local teams with overall creativity judged by notable OKC leaders: Gene Hopper, The Mettise Group; Rhonda Hooper, Jordan Advertising; and Brian Fritts, Express Employment Professionals. 

Admission to the Braum’s Holiday River Parade is free; parking is $10 per vehicle. Guests are encouraged to arrive early and bring outdoor chairs or blankets. 

This year’s Holiday River Parade will be led by Grand Marshal, Pat Downes.  

RIVERSPORT Foundation board member Pat Downes has been an integral part of the development of the Oklahoma River since its earliest days when, as he often jokes, it was a ditch that had to be mowed three times a year. 

Downes filed the trust papers to start the Oklahoma City Riverfront Redevelopment Authority and spent the next 35 years as a member, working to maximize development of the downtown river then known as the North Canadian. 

Downe’s vision first came to life with the 1993 Metropolitan Area Projects sales tax which created the dams and, by 2000, refilled the river with water.  

Downes was instrumental in recruiting Dell, Inc., to locate a business center on the Western basin of the river, he worked with Devon Energy to bring the river cruisers to the city, and he was among the first to see the potential for the development of the Boathouse District. 

“Early on, Pat came out on the water with us at Lake Overholser to see what this sport of rowing was all about,” said Mike Knopp, executive director of the Foundation. “Despite it being cold and having engine problems, Pat saw the potential of bringing the sport to the Oklahoma River, and he was instrumental in making it happen.” 

Downes was among the original members of the board of the then Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, more recently renamed the RIVERSPORT Foundation, and has served as board president and now, as an Emeritus member.  

“Pat continues to be at the heart and soul of what’s happening on the Oklahoma River,” Knopp said, “and we are so excited to honor him as Grand Marshal at the river parade.” 

To learn more about the Braum’s Holiday River Parade and other RIVERSPORT events, please visit 

Braum’s Holiday River Parade Schedule 

  • 5 p.m. – Parking Opens  
  • 7 p.m. – Santa’s Elves Ski Show 
  • 8 p.m. – Holiday Boats on Parade, followed by fireworks 

ABOUT: RIVERSPORT OKC is a US Olympic and Paralympic Training Site for both rowing and canoe/kayak. The nonprofit organization has hosted numerous national and international canoe/kayak race events including 2016 US Olympic Team Trials for Canoe Slalom, 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint Super Cup and 2022 Stand Up Paddling World Cup. RIVERSPORT has been selected to host several upcoming international events including the 2025 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup and 2025 ICF Canoe Slalom and Sprint Super Cups. In 2026, RIVERSPORT will host the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships. RIVERSPORT is a 501c3 nonprofit located in Oklahoma City.

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