The Boston Common Tree Lighting Costs Canadians $242,000

A quarter-million was spent last year on the ritual gifting of a holiday tree from Nova Scotia.

The lighting of a giant tree on Boston Common every winter is a cherished local tradition—not only is it among the biggest spectacles of the holiday season, it’s also a symbol of a friendship between the city and Atlantic Canada stemming back to 1917, when Boston sent help to Halifax after an explosion rocked the Canadian city and killed more than 1,800. Every year since 1971, our neighbors to the north have said thanks by picking out one massive pine tree a year and trucking it down to Massachusetts.

The whole process comes with lots of fanfare, from the ceremonial cutting of the tree to the televised lighting of it in the Hub, which airs live both here and in Nova Scotia. There’s even a Twitter account where you can track its journey south in real time (the last dispatch came from Bangor, this afternoon). All of that costs money, and now, thanks to the CBC, we all know exactly how much.

From start to finish, the tree ritual cost about $242,000 last year, the CBC found out via documents obtained in a freedom of information request. Its a Canadian taxpayer-funded investment that officials told CBC helps spread the word about Nova Scotia as a destination for tourists and a source of seafood products and green energy.

About $100,000 (in Canadian dollars) went directly to media outlets. Last year, the province gave $75,000 to WCVB to run the tree-lighting spectacular. Canadian broadcaster CTV was also paid $25,000. The province sent the city of Boston $41,000 to pay for the ceremonies.

Costs last year also included $4,000 to ship the tree on the back of a truck; $15,000 for commemorative hats, flags, and lanyards; and $9,000 for a reception at Boston’s Omni Parker House Hotel. A full break-down of the costs is available here.

Whether it’s all worth it is a question for Nova Scotians to answer, but if history is any indicator, there will certainly be lots of people thinking about and celebrating the province again this year when this year’s tree arrives. This year’s tree-lighting ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday December 1 and is expected to draw thousands.