CHEBOYGAN, Mich. (AP) -

The U.S. Coast Guard is preparing to set sail on a special holiday mission.

A crew is scheduled to load 1,220 Christmas trees Monday aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw. The ice cutter will then travel from its homeport of Cheboygan down Lake Michigan to Chicago.

A ceremony is planned for Dec. 7 at Navy Pier, where the trees will be unloaded and given to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy families.

The effort carries on the tradition of the Rouse Simmons -- known as the original Christmas tree ship. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of its sinking between the Wisconsin cities of Kewaunee and Two Rivers.

The Coast Guard will lay a wreath near the site of the 1912 wreck to remember the Rouse Simmons and its crew.