CHICAGO (WLS) -- Navy Pier was buzzing with Christmas cheer Saturday as a U.S. Coast Guard ship dropped off more than a thousand Christmas trees.
The annual Christmas Ship delivery is a beloved holiday tradition returning for its 24th year.
Over 1,200 trees were offloaded from a massive coast guard ship, the Cutter Mackinaw, with Captain Jeannette Greene at the helm. All trees will be distributed to families across the city.
"We are sailors and sailors love a good port call," Captain Greene said. "So we get to come to Chicago, right before the holidays, with the lights so beautiful and so festive."
The Christmas Ship committee procures the trees in northern Michigan, and the Mackinaw transports them to the Windy City.
"It's feeling a part of belonging to the holiday season when you can have a Christmas tree," said George Kisiel, chairman of Chicago's Christmas ship committee.
The trees were loaded onto trucks, and Ada S. McKinley Community Services will distribute them to 20 different non-profits.
"It means family, it means hope, it means the joyousness of the season," said Chris Stream, vice president of business development at Ada S. McKinley Community Services. "Because what family doesn't deserve a Christmas tree in Christmas time."
"Not only do they provide holiday joy to the families who receive them, but they also act as a catalyst for those community organizations to connect with their communities and those constituents to connect services," Kisiel said.
"We want the citizens of Chicago to know that we have the services and you're not alone," Stream said. "We can provide support and assistance. If it takes a Christmas tree to kind of open that door literally then that's fine, that's one way of reaching our constituents."