CHICAGO — Chicago’s Christmas Tree Ship arrived at Navy Pier this week. 

The United States Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw is carrying 1,200 trees that will be distributed to Chicago families in need beginning Saturday, Dec. 3. The tradition honors the Rouse Simmons, a three-masted schooner that was carrying Christmas trees to Chicago from Northern Michigan when it sank in 1912.

“It is the biggest privilege ever to have a mission like this,” said Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw Commander Jeanette Greene. “It makes out holiday season so bright.”

The idea for Chicago’s Christmas Tree Ship was born 23 years ago when the USCG and several agencies decided to memorialize the schooner while bringing Christmas cheer to Chicago.

The official tree ceremony starts Saturday at 10 a.m. Tree offloading begins at 8 a.m. Anyone interested in donating may do so by clicking here.

The trees will then be given to local nonprofits throughout Chicago by Ada S. McKinley Community Services and distributed to families throughout the Chicago area.