I enjoy all the artwork displayed year-round at Ottawa Art Park. Last year, for the Art Vision Cheboygan auction fundraiser, all four of the artists who painted the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw for the park display graciously donated their paintings to be auctioned off. The Icebreaker Mackinaw painting, done by local artist Sherie Gekiere, is now proudly displayed on our Cheboygan River boathouse for everybody to enjoy while cruising by in their boat and another great Coast Guard painting can be seen on our local Children’s Trail.
Many of us have heard the story of the Christmas Tree Ship from long ago and the winter journey they made to bring trees and the Christmas spirit to our neighbors across the lake in Chicago. The tradition and spirit lives on, thanks to the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw. This year, to go along with each tree, our community has delivered 1,200 holiday cards to go with the 1,200 trees!
Inspiration comes in many ways, and with the 2021 journey of the Christmas Tree Ship and need for cards, I made a Christmas card out of the painting which beautifully represents the ice breaker at work. It did not take long for a few of us to think about creating a special ornament for the Coast Guard crew to thank them for all they do. The ornament front depicts the painting by Ms. Gekiere and on the back details a photo of the ship, the loading of the trees and the Crib Lighthouse. With interest from others, we ordered extras, and have a limited supply of the ornaments for sale at the Chamber office for $10 each.
A Coast Guard career is a traveling life wherever duty calls and often families join them, beginning again in a new community. There are so many ways to celebrate the work our home port Coast Guard does and last year a special team formed called the Coast Guard Connection to support our “Coasties.” With the help of the Ombudsman and the Connection team, we hope to make Cheboygan a home to remember and maybe someday, to return to. With the ornament sales, any profits or donations will go to the Connection team to help support our troops.
If you are in the holiday shopping mood, a great gift to go with the ornament is the book "The Mighty Mackinaw" written by Coast Guard crew Tyler Benson, available at our local bookstore Melody’s Lane. It tells the story of Onyx the dog, and Hogan, who journey to Chicago on the Christmas Tree Ship. Another great gift is one of the Cheboygan County Community Foundation ornaments that highlight our wonderful lighthouses in the area. They are available at Mother Nature’s Remedies store downtown. Our CCCF works to support economic development in our community, supporting businesses that we utilize, shop, and dine at, making our town even better. All these little things for our city tie together in one big bow.
Kristen Baggott and her husband joined Cheboygan retirement life in 2018. She has not retired from volunteering, though, and has met many new friends throughout the community — all working to make Cheboygan an even better place to live.
This article originally appeared on Cheboygan Daily Tribune: Main Street: Icebreaker Mackinaw — A ship with many missions