The Oklahoma City Holiday River Parade is produced by Oklahoma City Events & Entertainment. The event was created in 2004 to officially open the Oklahoma River. The annual holiday parade is a free, family-friendly event that takes place on Friday evening of Thanksgiving weekend. The evening includes a ski show, "parade of boats," spectacular fireworks show and a special visit from Santa himself! The ski show features National Champions who have performed at Cypress Gardens and other venues across the United States. The parade of boats includes watercrafts of all shapes and sizes decorated with festive holiday lights that illuminate the Oklahoma River!
Oklahoma City Events & Entertainment was established in 2004. Mike McAuliffe, former Chief of Staff to Mayor Ron Norick, was asked by the former Mayor to create an event to officially open the Oklahoma River. The Oklahoma River was the final MAPS 1 projects to be completed. The first Oklahoma City Holiday River Parade celebrated both the completion of all 9 MAPS projects, as well as the opening of the Oklahoma River. The river parade, the first official event on the Oklahoma River, included a "Blessing of the River" by Native Americans. According to the Oklahoma City Police Department, the inaugural event attracted over 30,000 people to the shoreline of the Oklahoma River.