The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw arrives in Chicago with a load of Christmas trees. (Credit: Mike Krauser/WBBM Newsradio)

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw arrives in Chicago with a load of Christmas trees. (Credit: Mike Krauser/WBBM Newsradio)

CHICAGO (AP) – A U.S. Coast Guard ship loaded with more than 1,200 Michigan Christmas trees has arrived in downtown Chicago.

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The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw set sail late last month, traveling from its homeport of Cheboygan down Lake Michigan to Chicago.

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The ice cutter’s voyage carries on the tradition of the Rouse Simmons – known as the original Christmas tree ship – which began delivering trees in the late 1800s.

That ship was captained by Herman Schuenemann, who continued the holiday tradition for three decades until his boat sank in 1912 while carrying the evergreens.

The Mackinaw paid tribute to Schuenemann’s crew during by dropping a wreath into water where their ship went down.

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The trees will be unloaded at Chicago’s Navy Pier on Saturday to be distributed to needy families.