Christmas Tree Ship sparks holiday spirit, aids families in need

Press Staff Writer

        On Nov. 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, Dec. 5.
        “This year has been a year filled with hardships and struggles, which is why we felt so strongly about maintaining this holiday tradition,” said Kate Fineske, NMGL director of communications and development. “The Christmas Tree Ship event is all about giving back and supporting our community.”
        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 NMGL 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 for $55, 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 County Children’s Services and Sylvania Area Family Services.
        Advance registration for the outdoor event is required. There is no cost to register. Space will be limited to allow for proper physical distancing.
        Admission to the museum exhibits will be free for all who purchase a tree, donate a tree or donate toward a gift card.
        To learn more about the event, purchase a tree, donate to a family in need or reserve a spot, visit or call 419-214-5000.
        The National Museum of the Great Lakes is located at 1701 Front St., Toledo,
        Regular museum admission is $10 for adults 18 and older and $8 for youths ages 6-17. Admission is free for children age 5 and NMGL members.


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