Cutter Mackinaw Continues Christmas Tree Ship Tradition

CHICAGO — The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB-30) will arrive here, Friday, with a delivery of 1,000 Christmas trees that will be provided to needy families at the Navy Pier in downtown during a public ceremony Dec. 1, 2007, at 10 a.m.USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB 30) is in her second year as the Christmas Tree Ship, continuing the tradition of its predecessor (WAGB-83), which resurrected the Christmas Tree Ship in 2000. The crew of the Mackinaw hauls a load of trees from the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin for distribution to more than a thousand disadvantaged Chicago-area families.

On behalf of the Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc., volunteers from the Sea Cadets, Young Marines and the Sea Explorer Scouts assist the Mackinaw crew with the offloading ceremony.

The Chicago Christmas Ship Committee, which purchased the trees, represents diverse aspects of the Chicago boating community such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, International Shipmaster’s Association and the Chicago Yachting Association, for instance.

The original Christmas Tree Ship, the Rouse Simmons, started the tradition in 1896, when Captain Scheunemann docked his tree-laden schooner on the riverbank near the Clark Street Bridge.

The Christmas Tree Ship festivities will commence on Friday with a Welcoming Ceremony at 8 a.m., followed by the Mackinaw hosting School children for tours and nautical history lessons. The Tree presentation will take place on Saturday, at 10 a.m. Following the ceremony, Mackinaw will be available for tours from 1-5 p.m.

Mackinaw will continue her aids-to-navigation mission on her return transit to Northern Lake Michigan.

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