#WickedCoolTree: Control the Colors of City Hall’s Holiday Tree Decorations

All you need to do is tweet the hashtag, along with your color preference, and the decorations will change instantly.
Wicked Cool Tree Photo By Chloe Ryan

Wicked Cool Tree Photo By Chloe Ryan

City Hall is all hooked up to the Internet, right down to the Christmas tree in the main lobby.

The tree, set up at the Government Center building for the holidays, is adorned with lights that change colors when people type in a preference on Twitter. Using the hashtag #WickedCoolTree, people can pick between an array of hues and light up the decorations any way they want, be it blue, green, red, or any other combination of options.

“Visitors to City Hall will be delighted by the #WickedCoolTree, and it will also be a great way for virtual visitors to engage,” said Mayor Marty Walsh in a statement about the digitally manipulated Christmas decorations. “This is a unique and innovative way to ramp up the holiday spirit in Boston.”

The idea for the interactive holiday lighting came from the mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Department of Innovation and Technology, he said of the tree, which is outfitted with 720 programmable LED lights. The project was done in-house using open-source software and hardware, and the lights are controlled by three small computers plugged directly into them. Those computers also source information from Twitter’s streaming API to find the hashtag #WickedCoolTree as requests come in.

If you’re too far from City Hall, and can’t make the trip to see the lights changing in person, officials have set up a camera aimed directly at the tree which live-streams the colors as the swap back and forth based on people’s tweets.

So go ahead, Boston, light up the holidays using your smartphone.


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com


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