1,200 ‘presents’ offloaded from modern-day Christmas Ship

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CHICAGO—The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw was joined today by more than 300 young volunteers, including the Sea Cadets, Sea Scouts and Young Marines, to offload more than 1,200 Christmas trees in a ceremony at Navy Pier commemorating the original “Christmas Ship.”

Mackinaw arrived at Navy Pier Friday morning to help the Chicago Christmas Ship Committee re-enact an annual Chicago tradition dating to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw help offload more than 1,200 Christmas trees as part of a two-day re-enactment of a Chicago maritime tradition dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Rouse Simmons served as the original Christmas Ship bringing tress to the people of Chicago for more than 30 years before perishing in a winter storm in November of 1912. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Courtney Marker)

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw help offload more than 1,200 Christmas trees as part of a two-day re-enactment of a Chicago maritime tradition dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Courtney Marker

The Christmas trees, purchased by the Chicago’s Christmas Ship Committee, were loaded onto trucks for distribution by 18 local community organizations to more than 1,200 deserving families throughout Chicago. Ada S. McKinley Community Services coordinated the recipients.

The original Christmas Ship, the Rouse Simmons, brought Christmas trees from northern Michigan to the people of Chicago in the late 1800s and early 1900s for more than 30 years before sinking in a winter storm in November of 1912.

In addition to this charitable activity, the Mackinaw conducted a scheduled Aids-to-Navigation mission in the southern region of Lake Michigan to remove buoys for winter maintenance and replacement with “winter marks” to protect them from ice damage. Additionally, regular underway crew training and drills were conducted in preparation for the ship’s primary winter mission of ice-breaking to keep commerce moving through the Great Lakes.

Click the picture for more from the event.

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