Museum Hosts “Christmas Tree Ship” to Spark Holiday Spirit, Support Children and Families in Need

November 11, 2020 (Toledo, Ohio) – On November 23, 1912, the schooner Rouse Simmons sank while carrying Christmas trees. Known as the Christmas Tree Ship, her captain, Herman E. Schuenemann (a.k.a. “Captain Santa”), was known for giving trees to families in need. This is the inspiration behind the National Museum of the Great Lakes annual Christmas Tree Ship event taking place Saturday, December 5.

“2020 has been a year filled with hardships and struggles, which is why we felt so strongly about maintaining this holiday tradition. The Christmas Tree Ship event is all about giving back and supporting our community,” explains Kate Fineske, Director of Communications and Development for the National Museum of the Great Lakes.  

In partnership with Geo Gradel Co. and United Way of Greater Toledo, spectators can watch Santa Claus and a boatload of Christmas trees navigate the Maumee River and dock behind the National Museum of the Great Lakes in person or via Facebook Live. Once at the museum, Santa will take his place atop the deck of the Museum Tug Ohio, where children can deliver Christmas wishes from afar to Santa via “Mail by the Pail.” Guests will have both in-person and virtual opportunities to participate in order to keep health and safety front and center.

Individuals can pre-purchase a live Christmas Tree OR donate a tree or a gift card to a family in need. The museum is offering direct support to East Toledo Family Center, Lucas Co. Children’s Services, and Sylvania Area Family Services. This is an outdoor event. Registration to attend the event is FREE, but limited to allow for proper physical distancing, with advanced reservations required. Admission to the museum exhibits will be FREE for all who purchase a tree, donate a tree, or donate towards a gift card.

To learn more about the event, purchase a tree, donate to a family in need or reserve your spot on the day of, click here or call 419-214-5000.