Under foggy skies and an icy drizzle Tuesday morning on Boston Common, city officials and schoolchildren breathed in the holiday spirit and welcomed a towering 46-foot Christmas tree from Oxford, Nova Scotia.
“I love it,” said James H. Stewart, a town crier from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, who officially presented the tree to the city. “It’s such a wonderful tradition, and really, when it’s tree time, it’s like, ‘OK, Christmas is coming.’ ”
The white spruce, which made its way onto the Common with a Boston police escort, is emblematic of the friendship between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Boston — a partnership that began 101 years ago, after the city of Boston sent aid to Halifax following an explosion in the city’s harbor that killed nearly 2,000 people on Dec. 6, 1917.
“You have these two cities, two different locations, two different countries, and you have the spirit of unity and connection between them,” Chris Cook, Boston parks commissioner, told the Globe. “I just think it’s symbolic of the best we can be.”
The tree arrived on a flatbed truck, carrying the Nova Scotia flag and a dusting of snow from its time north of the border. It’s the first tree since the tradition began decades ago to come from Cumberland County. The tree was donated by Ross McKellar and Teresa Simpson, officials said.
The tree was lifted into the air with a crane from Maltby & Company, a tree service company out of Stoughton, before the trunk was trimmed and fitted into a pit in the ground near the Boston Common Visitors Center.
Among those excitedly watching the tree rise was a small group of fourth-graders from Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, who have a continuing correspondence with pen pals at St. Stephen’s Elementary School in Halifax.
The students called their pen pals via a video connection to show them the tree’s arrival before receiving the latest letters from Halifax, which came aboard the truck that carried the tree.
“I’m happy and excited,” said Syanni James, 9, after speaking with the Halifax pen pals. “The other trees are kind of really old and the new tree, the Christmas tree, it’s pretty big and I think it’s going to look beautiful . . . It’s ginormous!” she said.
James said she wants to go back to the Common with her family on Nov. 29, when the tree will be officially lit at 7:55 p.m.