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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A few years ago my wife and I learned of a tradition that tied the area of Michigan's Upper Peninsula were we go, with the City of Chicago that started in the 1890s and lives on to this day.

Way back then, a schooner called the Rouse Simmons, piloted by Capt. Schuenemann, would carry loads of Christmas trees from the U.P. to Chicago.

History

In 1912, the ship left the docks at Thompson, MI for Chicago, but encountered a terrible storm on Lake Michigan, and sank. The Village of Thompson has erected a memorial to the ship and it's crew near where the docks were located. My wife and I were lucky enough to have attended the dedication of that memorial back in 2006.

Michigan Historical Markers

Some 14 years ago, the U.S. Coast Guard picked up the tradition of carrying Christmas trees from the U.P. to Chicago, and the event is celebrated with ceremonies at Chicago's Navy Pier, where the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter docks.

Chicago's Christmas Ship

This year my birthday happened to fall on the same week end the Christmas Tree Ship was to arrive, and my wife surprised me with a trip to Chicago to see the ship and watch the off loading ceremonies Saturday morning.

We started with being able to see the arrival of the Coast Guard Cutter via the Navy Pier web cam on our way to Chicago. That's it in the upper right hand corner.
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The ceremonies included a presentation of the colors,
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A laying of a wreath at the memorial to those lost on the Great Lakes,
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Immediately after the laying of the wreath at the base of the memorial, a Chicago Fire Department helicopter flew out beyond the pier, and laid a wreath upon the water of Lake Michigan while a musical tribute was playing, then the helicopter flew overhead in salute. The playing of the National anthem and the laying of wreaths were very moving, and every person in attendance was touched.

Commander Davanzo addressed the event,
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The trees are carried on the deck of the Cutter.
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The Rouse Simmons always carried a tree lashed to it's upper mast, and the USCG Cutter Mackinaw carries on the tradition.
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There are several youth groups who volunteer to unload the trees. My wife and I tried to sneak into line to carry a tree off, :bag:but my grey hair gave me away, and well, we had to step out of line.:dunno:
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It was a cold, but beautiful day, and the offloading of the Christmas trees was fun to see, and a great continuation to the adventure that started for us in Thompson, MI a few years ago. Thanks for a great week end and birthday surprise Judy.
 

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Thanks for sharing the experience and history with us!

That's wonderful how they continue the tradition like that. It does sound and look like it would have been a very moving experience to be there.
 

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Cool!! Thanks for letting us know! Austen hit it on the head!! What a experience!
 
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Very cool story!!!!
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Here's a couple of videos of this year's ceremonies. Right at about 1:02 on this first one, you'll see my wife and I, or at least the backs of our heads. She's the good looking one, and I'm the one with the green hood pulled up over my head. We're kind of right under the anchor.


This second one is pretty entertaining.


This one shows the laying of the wreath honoring those who have lost their lives on the Great Lakes. This was the song played while the Chicago Fire Department helicopter flew out over the lake to lay the wreath. It was a very moving event to witness.

 
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