TRURO, N.S. – Dave MacFarlane has quite a fan base in Boston.
For the sixth year in a row he is driving the city’s Christmas tree from Nova Scotia to Boston, along highways often lined with cheering bystanders and motorists honking their horns in support.
“The closer we get to Massachusetts the more people know it’s their tree coming to Boston, so there’s a lot of waving, a lot of people pulling over and taking pictures,” said MacFarlane, who hails from Parrsboro. “Going into Boston the first time, going into the downtown and city common, there was a crowd of people waiting for the tree.”
Since 1971, the tree has been given as a thank-you to Boston for sending medical personnel and supplies to Nova Scotia when nearly 2,000 people were killed and hundreds more were left injured and homeless by the Halifax Explosion in early December 1917.
For MacFarlane, a veteran truck driver of 20 years who works as a snowplow operator on the Cobequid Pass, most of the journey is fairly easy, even loading the tree onto the truck with a crane. The trickiest part is right at the end, navigating the winding streets of Boston that lead to the Common – the city’s main park where the tree is displayed.
Taking Boston’s Canadian Christmas present over the American border is fairly easy, as the paperwork is filed in advance and the tree itself is inspected for pests, preventing the transport of any unwanted bugs into the United States. The tree is prepared by a team from Nova Scotia’s Department of Lands and Forestry.
Before leaving for the U.S., MacFarlane is taking the tree on a mini-tour of Nova Scotia.
Donated by Ross McKellar and Teresa Simpson of Oxford, the tree was cut on the morning of Nov. 15 and made an appearance in Truro later that same day. Its next stop is at the Chronicle Herald Holiday Parade of Lights on Nov. 17. A scheduled Nov. 16 public send-off at Halifax’s Grand Parade was cancelled due to forecasted bad weather.
On Nov. 18, the Boston Christmas Tree will stop at the Atlantic Superstore on South Albion Street in Amherst at 10 a.m. From there, MacFarlane will drive his cargo along the highways of New Brunswick, Maine and through New Hampshire and into Massachusetts.
Once it arrives at the Boston Common, the tree will be lit up in the presence of Nova Scotian town criers and members of the RCMP.
“It makes me feel proud to be a Canadian and a Nova Scotian and that we still send a tree in thanks for what Boston did for us in our time of need,” said MacFarlane.