It’s big, white, and red. But it’s not Santa’s sleigh.
It’s the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, currently serving as the “Christmas Ship.”
The ship is docked at Navy Pier, loaded up with Christmas trees. The trees will be distributed to churches and community centers that will give the trees to Chicago-area families.
The boat’s journey began in Cheboygan, Michigan. A few days before Thanksgiving, the Coast Guard loaded 1,225 trees on board. On their way to Chicago, they retraced the journey of one of the original Christmas tree ships, the Rouse Simmons. The Rouse Simmons brought evergreens across Lake Michigan for years before it sank with trees onboard in 1912.
This year’s “Christmas Ship” arrived in Chicago on Thursday. Then, volunteers decorated the ship with lights. The founding chairman of the Christmas Ship Committee, Captain Dave Truitt, said this is the nineteenth year for the annual tradition.
“Christmas is a wonderful time,” said Truitt, “and everybody should be able to enjoy it.”
Lauren Frost covers news for WBEZ. Follow her @frostlaur.