USCGC Mackinaw Loads Up 1200 Christmas Trees for Chicago Families in Need

The crew aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw in Cheboygan are getting ready for a special operation down in Chicago.

On board with them are more than 1,000 Christmas trees.

“It is a lot of fun, it’s an opportunity to take a break from our normal operations.

Before the lakes start to freeze, the Coast Guard stays busy pulling buoys from the water, but before they travel south they’re taking on some precious cargo.

“The Christmas tree ship dates back to the late 1800s early 1900s when the city of Chicago would predominately get their Christmas trees from the Upper Peninsula,” Commander John Stone, said.

In just over a week the coast guard will help deliver 1200 Northern Michigan trees to families in the windy city.

“It’s an opportunity to provide some good will as well as commemorate the rich maritime tradition up here on the Great Lakes,” Stone, added.

A tradition they continue to honor in memory of the Rouse Simmons.

“About 1912, the most famous of the Christmas tree ships, the Rouse Simmons sank with all hands. We along with Christmas Tree Committee down in Chicago started to commemorate their loss every year since,” Stone, explained.

For 19 years the crew here in Cheboygan has continued to make this special delivery.

“It’s always nice because we got the ceremony down in Chicago and it’s a blast. It’s kind of a legacy of an old tradition,” ET-2 Joseph Coach, said.

A tradition that helps bring joy to hundreds during the holidays.

“I kind of joined the Coast Guard to help serve and help the community and this is kind of a different way of doing it,” Coach, added.

The ship will take off next Monday and will be in Chicago by the end of next week.