Museum Welcomes “Christmas Tree Ship” to Spark Holiday Spirit and Support Holiday Needs

November 11, 2021 (Toledo, Ohio) On Saturday, December 4 from 1-4 p.m. the National Museum of the Great Lakes will welcome the arrival of the Christmas Tree Ship. Together in partnership with Geo. Gradel Co., individuals are invited to purchase a Christmas Tree for themselves or a family in need and then watch Santa arrive with a tugboat of trees.   

“On November 23, 1912, the schooner Rouse Simmons sank while carrying Christmas trees,” shares Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Director of Education and Visitor Experience. “Known as the Christmas Tree Ship, her captain, lovingly referred to as “Captain Santa”, was remembered for giving trees to families in need.”

Spectators can see Santa Claus and a boatload of Christmas trees navigate the Maumee River via Facebook Live and then watch in-person as the decorated tugboat docks behind the National Museum of the Great Lakes. Once at the museum, Santa will take his place for the remainder of the day atop the deck of the Museum Tug Ohio, where children can deliver Christmas wishes from afar to Santa via the Great Lakes tradition of “Mail by the Pail” delivery.

Inspired by the original Christmas Tree Ship tale, participants can pre-purchase a live Christmas Tree for themselves and/or donate a tree or gift card to a family in need. The museum has partnered with United Way of Greater Toledo and 2-1-1 and are working with East Toledo Family Center,  Family House, Lucas County Children’s Services, and Sylvania Area Family Services to distribute trees and holiday support to families in need.

This year, in collaboration with the East Toledo community, the museum also chose to move the event to the afternoon to encourage visitors to participate in the neighboring East Toledo Holiday Parade beginning at 11 a.m. and traveling along East Broadway and Starr Avenue. 

This is a FREE outdoor event and will be open to the general public. In addition, 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 for yourself or a family in need, or donate holiday gift card support call 419-214-5000 or visit our event page here.

Individuals interested in learning more about receiving a donated tree are encouraged to call 2-1-1.