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The short, sad life of the Brighton Christmas tree

The large tree was taken down Wednesday following a bit of social media fame-and-shame. The city said it is replacing it soon.

As evening fell in Brighton, all that remained of a the city's Christmas tree that had gone viral for being so depressing was a stump after the city removed it.
As evening fell in Brighton, all that remained of a the city's Christmas tree that had gone viral for being so depressing was a stump after the city removed it.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

The tree was so sad, not even the Peanuts gang could have saved it.

A Christmas tree that was set up at a busy intersection in Brighton Center was chopped down Wednesday by the city after a series of complaints about its disheveled and dejected look. Festive it was not.

A spokesman for Boston’s public works department said crews are looking to replace the tree within a week after the original gained a bit of social media fame and shame for its broken and brittle-looking branches and browning needles. It was up for only 11 days, bowing out well before Thanksgiving.


The tree, which was displayed on a traffic island at the intersection of Market and Washington streets, was one of 41 the city received from Nova Scotia to place in various neighborhoods for the holidays.

“To prevent any damage during the transport and installation phases, each tree is packaged in a protective string,” public works spokesman Chris Coakley said in a statement. “After having adequate time to settle after installation, it was apparent the Christmas tree in Brighton Center was not satisfactory.”

A hard assessment. But for some of those who bore witness to the tree during its short-lived stay, it may have been an understatement.

“Brighton’s Christmas tree ... are you serious?,” one critic wrote in a BOS:311 complaint to city officials on Nov. 8, the day the tree went up. “We are part of Boston, you know.”

A second complaint called for an upgrade: “Constituents are upset with quality of the tree and would like a better one.”

Several more complaints, which may have been filed by the same person, were also lodged, each seemingly snarkier than the last.

“Dead tree in Brighton Center,” one grievance read.

“Dead Tree Removal at Intersection Of Chestnut Hill Ave & Market St, Brighton,” read the next.


And then, later: “A visibly sick tree has spread it roots in Brighton center. Science has yet to confirm nor deny plant to human spread of Covid-19. Please remove immediately and cite the tree for not wearing a mask in public.”

One of the complaints lodged on BOS:311 about the Brighton tree.
One of the complaints lodged on BOS:311 about the Brighton tree.Screengrab/BOS:311

On Twitter, one person thought the tree might have been left over from last Christmas, and was simply never hauled away.

“Drove through Brighton center today and saw the Christmas tree they put up. Um...that is last years tree, did you forget to get a new one? It’s all half dead,” the person wrote.

There was also a series of tree-bashing comments in a Facebook group for people who admire (at least usually) the Brighton-Allston area. On the page, someone shared an image of the patchy bottom of the tree, declaring it “deader than dead.”

“If 2020 was a tree,” one person deadpanned.

After increased scrutiny from passersby during a segment that aired on WBZ NewsRadio this week, the city finally conceded the loss and announced the tree’s imminent removal.

The drama in Brighton unfurled just days after the Christmas tree that arrived to New York City’s Rockefeller Center inadvertently became the the unofficial symbol of a year best forgotten.

On Saturday, the tree was delivered after a long journey from central New York and immediately received a barrage of online criticism for its unkempt appearance. A spokesperson for Rockefeller Center defended the tree, telling Today.com that after being wrapped up for days “it takes a while before it fully settles.”


But the tree in New York was able to redeem itself this week when it was reported that workers had discovered a small owl tucked away inside of the 75-foot Norway spruce. Indeed, a Christmas miracle.

All Brighton got was a stump, a sigh, and maybe a few laughs.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.