HAMPDEN – A gymnasium full of energetic students at the George B. Weatherbee School gathered in celebration of a tree that made a stop there Monday morning.
In a tradition that dates back to 1918, citizens of Halifax, Nova Scotia have sent a tree to the people of Boston each fall for the last 48 years.
“It’s a white spruce … 60 years old and 45 feet long,” David MacFarlane, who works at the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation, said of this year’s tree.
“It’s a great gesture of community and friendship to have that tree come through Maine,” said Matt Dunlap, Maine’s secretary of state.
Dunlap said the tree is a thank you for the help Nova Scotia received from what was known as the “Boston States” after a horrific ship explosion in the Halifax Harbor that killed a few thousand people during WWI.
“On their own [they] pulled together and shipped supplies and medical personnel to Nova Scotia to help with the aftermath to the explosion,” said Dunlap.
MacFarlane said being involved in the tree selection is a big deal and is an honor many hope to have.
“Department of lands and forestry do a lot of work to make sure the tree is good. They do a lot of core samples of the tree. Make sure it’s a good, solid tree,” MacFarlane said.
After its stop in Hampden, the tree headed south to Boston, where it will be put on display in the Boston Commons.