A visit to the Christmas lights on the Boston Common is more than just a pleasant drive-by — it’s a way for suburbanites and out-of-town visitors to bond with the city. The decorations draw shoppers and tourists, helping to drive the local economy. They also serve to remind people that Boston’s historic downtown is arguably the prettiest in the country, especially at Christmas.
The annual lights display may never equal local residents’ excited childhood memories of it. Indeed, this year’s version — in which each illuminated tree features lights of just one hue, the strings draped loosely over their branches — has its share of detractors: To some, the trees look like partiers lurching home wearing costume beads.