More than 1,210 Christmas trees were unloaded with the help of more than 300 young volunteers Saturday morning at Navy Pier, despite having to work in 10-degree weather.
“Everyone should have a Christmas tree,” said Samantha Martin, a student from William Jones College Preparatory High School. “It’s something small that has a huge impact.”
The trees were scheduled to be delivered later in the day to 1, 500 deserving families across the Chicago area. The Christmas Tree Ship Program has put this together each year since 2000 continuing a tradition since the 1870s. These Christmas trees, which were purchased by the Christmas Tree Ship Committee and delivered on Friday by the US Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw also known as the Christmas Tree Ship, were honored Saturday morning during a brief ceremony at 10 a.m.
“It’s great to be Captain Santa for a few days,” Michael Davanzo, commanding officer of the US Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, said. “Perhaps, it is the magic of a Christmas tree that brings out the best in everyone. It’s an honor to continue Capt. Schuenamann’s legacy.”
Schuenamann’s legacy started in the late 1870s. While commanding the schooner Rouse Simmons, on his last trip each year he would bring thousands of Christmas trees to sell, and give 10 percent of those trees away to the poor. The crew of fifteen along with 5,000 Christmas trees sunk in 1912 on their way to make the delivery.