The original "Christmas Tree Ship"
The Rouse Simmons was the original "Christmas Tree Ship" that came to Chicago at the beginning of the holiday season for over 30 years in the early 1900’s. The “Christmas Tree Ship” was a three masted schooner that was easily recognized by waiting crowds when they saw a Christmas tree tied to her main mast and her decks loaded with thousands of Christmas trees destined for Chicago families. For more of the story see HISTORY.
Today's "Christmas Tree Ship"
Chicago's boating community reenactment of the olden days of the Rouse Simmons landing in Chicago is now portrayed by the US Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw. The trees are off-loaded from the Mackinaw by local youth volunteers, including Sea Cadets, Venture Crews, Sea Scouts and Young Marines and loaded onto trucks for distribution to more than a thousand deserving families throughout Chicago by Ada S. McKinley Community Services. The gift of Christmas trees to deserving families is made possible by the generous financial support of our sponsors, donors and contributors.
Chicago's Christmas Ship Committee hosts educational programs for local area schools aboard the USCGC Mackinaw and tall ship Windy. More information can be found in the events section of this website.
The Mackinaw's arrival is a culmination of efforts by the Chicago's Christmas Ship Committee, working together with the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Chicago's Navy Pier, private individuals, volunteer groups and the hard working generous boaters of the marine community to help make Christmas special for deserving Chicago families.
Kids Helping Kids
Starting in 2004, our participating youth groups (high school aged Scouting and other organized youth groups) have played an ever-increasing important and appreciated role in this charitable program. We invite returning and new units of recognized youth groups to contact us using the Volunteer Inquiry section of the Contact Us menu. This is the only way new or returning youth groups may qualify to participate.
We have reached our limit of 250 youth participants.