Hand Drawn by Colin Cavanaugh / Graphics Editor

77th annual tree lighting signifies the beginning of the holiday season

December 5, 2018

Boston celebrated its biggest annual tree lighting ceremony at the Boston Common last Thursday in a star-studded ceremony that concluded with a fireworks display and the lighting of the city’s most prominent christmas tree.

A tradition going on for 77 years now, it is an extravagant event where families, friends and college students come together in celebration of the winter holiday season. This year yielded a crowd over a thousand, as people from all over New England came to its largest city for one of the largest Christmas tree lightings around.

The event was filled with surprise guest appearances from local and national celebrities. Red Sox President Sam Kennedy took to the stage to show off the team’s 2018 World Series trophy, while pop superstar Andy Grammer and the Morning Star Baptist Choir serenaded the thousands of spectators.

As the night went on and throngs of spectators huddled around Dunkin Donuts trucks and pop-up shops, all eyes were on the silhouette of the 46-foot Nova Scotian fir tree, located on the eastern edge of the Common. Around 8 o’clock, Mayor Martin J. Walsh took to the stage and put his hand on an oversized switch.

“Ten! Nine! Eight!” The entire crowd joined in the countdown. Everyone stopped and stared at the titanic tree, anticipating its gleaming display. As soon as the clock struck eight, the entire Common came to life, lit up like a glittering marquee.

The array of colors and lights caused for the jubilant crowd of thousands to cheer and rejoice together in front of the tree. People of all ages came together in the midst of the holiday season, celebrating the park’s splendor with admiration and delight.

Suffolk students were not in short supply at the tree lighting. The University owns two properties directly adjacent to the Common; Sargent Hall, which houses the law school, and Smith Hall, which many underclassmen call home.

Suffolk junior Michaela Fawcett told the Journal that the event is one of her favorite traditions.

“I’ve come in years past and I just really love it. It really gets me in the holiday spirit.” Fawcett, a PR and advertising major and Resident Assistant at 1047 Commonwealth, pointed to Suffolk’s location as the main reason she’s able to enjoy the festivities. “I love living in the city, that’s honestly the reason why I chose Suffolk. I’m in the center of it all.”

“I love living in the city, that’s honestly the reason why I chose Suffolk. I’m in the center of it all.””

— Micheala Fawcett

Sophomore Ireland McGreavy, an interior design major, said that she came out to celebrate the holiday and get in the spirit.

“It’s super cool, and really rewarding to live in the middle of the city,” McGreavy said. “There are people who travel to come and do this and we can literally walk two minutes.”

“I like the holiday season and wanted to enjoy it. I actually had the option to go to the Bruins but I picked this,” she told The Journal.

Haley Michaels, a global and cultural communications major who is also a sophomore, said that the tree lighting was “something fun to do” to ring in the Christmas season.

“I’ve been to colleges that have campuses, and I prefer being right in the city, for sure,” said sophomore Katarina Aguiar.

The history of the Boston Common Christmas tree is rooted in tragedy. After the explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Dec. 6, 1917 killed 2,000 people, the city of Boston extended a helping hand to their neighbors from the north, sending aid to the Canadian province. As a token of their appreciation, the Nova Scotian government has donated a tree to the city for over three quarters of a century.

“Every year it’s bigger and better,” said deputy Nova Scotian premier Karen Casey as she stood next to Mayor Walsh before the lighting.

Many people that attend the tree lighting event are new to the experience and typically aren’t entirely sure what to expect. Whether young or old, this event is a great addition to anyone who enjoys the season or for those simply looking for something to do in the city.

The Common tree lighting wasn’t the only chance for spectators to watch high-profile officials ring in the holiday season. Governor Charlie Baker was on hand at Faneuil Hall last week to flip the switch on its Christmas tree, while Macy’s at Downtown Crossing unveiled its famed window displays the day after Thanksgiving.

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