Q&A: The Truck Driver Who Brings Us the Boston Common Christmas Tree
The 49-foot Christmas tree destined for the Common is kicking off its trip from Nova Scotia on Wednesday, November 18, with a sendoff ceremony in Halifax.
From there, it will take a two-day-long ride to Boston. Nova Scotia has gifted the city with a tree to thank Boston for the help we provided after an enormous explosion in Halifax Harbor devastated the city in 1917.
The tree—which has its own Twitter account—is a proud gift from the Canadian province. Citizens compete in hopes of having their tree shipped south, and this year, a former Boston marathon runner and his wife are the lucky donors. The Pictou County residents, Bill and Andrea MacEachern, have bestowed a 72-year-old white spruce.
As the tree makes its way down from Halifax, we couldn’t help but wonder—who keeps it company all that time? Who gets to drive the famed tree across the border?
The answer is 41-year-old Dave MacFarlane. Born and raised in Bass River, Nova Scotia, he’s been a truck driver more than 20 years. This is his third year driving the tree to Boston, and he’ll be here on Friday, November 20, to help unload it.
Here, we chat with MacFarlane about his annual road trip:
How long does it take to get to Boston?
It’s about 13 hours driving time total. The tree is so wide, we’re not allowed to haul it after dark, so it takes us two days to go down.
Do you listen to Christmas music on the ride?
Sometimes I do. It’s certainly a kick off to Christmas for us, to have Nova Scotia send the tree.
What has to happen to the tree before you leave Canada?
The tree has to be inspected to make sure it’s free of all invasive species that we might have in Canada that you guys don’t have in the States. They have to check to make sure there’s no insects, no moths, that could create a problem in Boston.
Do spruce needles get all over your truck?
When I take the tree off the trailer when we get down there, there are some spruce needles on the truck. [Laughs] But it’s pretty well-contained on the trailer as we go down.
Do you get any comments from people while you’re stopping for gas?
Oh, all the time. And driving down the road we have lots of people that come up and they’ll read the sign on the side of the truck. People get really excited. Lots of picture taking, a lot of people waving and honking their horns and thumbs up.
It’s quite interesting actually because in Nova Scotia everybody knows that’s the tree for Boston. It’s well-publicized up here. A lot of people show a lot of interest. When we get to the province of New Brunswick there’s still people who show a lot of interest. But when we get to Maine, people are wondering what this big Christmas tree is doing on the truck. When we get closer to Massachusetts again, we get to like New Hampshire, you start to see a lot of people taking pictures again, waving. As we get closer to Massachusetts, people know that that’s the tree for Boston. We have a big sign on the side of the trailer that this is the Nova Scotia tree for Boston.
What happens to the tree when you go to sleep?
We have designated spots where we stop to spend the night. We have the tree guarded, locked in a compound. Wherever we leave the tree we have it locked up in a guarded facility, like a guarded yard.
What’s your experience been like?
It’s been just great. I’ve spent my whole life watching every year, watching them on TV, and reading about it in the paper—about the tree that was selected for Boston. You know the tree is always a big deal in Nova Scotia. A lot of people compete over it. Every year they have several trees that people want to go to Boston, and they pick the best tree.
But I just really like it. It’s just fun to see all the people, all the warm wishes, and everybody’s excited to see the tree. It means a lot to all the Nova Scotia people what Boston did for us in our time of need when the explosion happened. I’m proud to be a part of the position.
Will you do it again next year?
Yes, most definitely. I’ll do it every year that they ask me. I certainly enjoy it. And I love Boston, too. Boston is like our sister city. We like to figure everybody in Boston is a cousin to Nova Scotia. And I really enjoy the city. It’s a beautiful city and everybody’s so nice and just treat us great when we’re down there, so we always look forward to going to Boston.
This interview has been edited and condensed.