Christmas Tree Ship Event at Museum of the Great Lakes

The National Museum of the Great Lakes will be selling live Christmas trees on December 4 during their annual Christmas Tree Ship event. In partnership with Geo Gradel Company, visitors can watch Santa Claus and a boatload of Christmas trees navigate the Maumee River via Facebook Live or in-person from the decorated tugboat docks behind the museum around 1pm. After their arrival, each 5-7 foot tall tree will be available for pickup and you might even be able to take a photo with Santa.

In partnership with the United Way of Greater Toledo and 2-1-1, trees can also be purchased to donate and will be distributed to families in need along with gift cards. The museum will be working with the East Toledo Family Center, Family House, Lucas County Children’s Services, and Sylvania Area Family Services to make sure every family in the area has a way to make Christmas feel special this year. 

In November of 1912, the Schooner Rouse Simmons, later known at the Christmas Tree Ship,  sank while carrying Christmas trees from Michigan to Wisconsin. The ship, which was captained by Herman E. Schenemann (a.k.a. “Captain Santa”), was known for donating Christmas trees to families in need around the holidays.

The arrival and event itself is free and open to the public, however admission to the museum will still be normal price.

Each tree costs $55 and includes family museum admission for that day. Tickets must be purchased in advance HERE as there will not be any walk-up tree sales. The deadline to pre-order trees is 5pm on Tuesday, November 30 and they must be picked up at the December 4 event. 

To read more about the event on December 4, visit the National Museum of the Great Lakes website!


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