Charlie Brown never had it so easy. The crowd at Vermilion's Exchange Park didn't have to search through a field of Christmas trees Saturday, December 1. The trees were brought to them for the fifth straight year when the Christmas Tree Ship made its annual voyage on the Vermilion River.
A band played Christmas songs as children sipped hot chocolate waiting for a glimpse of the fishing schooner full of firs, spruces and pines. The crowd erupted with applause as the boat came through the harbor. And as the band played "O Christmas Tree," the boat was docked at Exchange Park while everyone with cameras took a snapshot of the boat with it's five-man crew including one special guest.
Carl Behrend, the special guest of the event, treated the crowd to the history of the Christmas Tree Ship followed by the guitar strumming and singing of the Christmas Tree Ship, a song he wrote. Behrend is also the author of The Legend of the Christmas Ship.
Other events of the day included lunch with Santa, a children's Christmas party and a display of coloring contest winners.
"It was fun. I think it gets you in the Christmas spirit," Behrend said. "It helps us commemorate the Great Lakes and the wonderful heritage of maritime history on the Great Lakes."
JoAnn Howley, vice president of Main Street Vermilion, agreed. "It is a re-enactment of the story," said Howley. "Because we're a waterfront community we try to think of unique ways to celebrate our environment, where we are, on the water."
The Bem family, members of the Inland Seas Maritime Museum in Vermilion, came from Parma to attend the event.
"It's a different kind of history," said Susan Bem, who came from Parma with her husband Kevin and their seven-year-old son Kevin. "We plan to spend the whole day."
Several Christmas trees were sold during and following the event including one Fraser Fir to the Skelley-Watts family of Vermilion. Joan Skelley-Watts explained her daughter Kathryn's allergies have kept them in the artificial tree market for some time. ""We haven't had a live tree in a long time," said Joan.