Under The Sun

Wednesday, February 26, 2003



History: Boston's Christmas Tree

On December 6, 1917, in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the ship Mont Blanc, carrying several thousand tons of explosives for the war in Europe, was accidentally struck by another ship and exploded. Mont Blanc's anchor was embedded in a hillside four miles away; thousands of people died in the blast, and thousands more were injured. Several square miles of the city were flattened. It was the largest manmade explosion in history until the advent of the atomic bomb.

Help came quickly, and from many quarters. By the afternoon of the very day of the blast, four US ships had come into port, and their crews were ashore and hard at work. Later in the week, trains from New England came bearing supplies. The state of Massachusetts sent two whole cargo ships full of building supplies, along with ten new heavy-duty trucks. In the midst of world war, two nations collaborated in a work of mercy.

In recognition and gratitude, the city of Halifax began a tradition that continues to this day: each year, a giant Nova Scotia fir tree is sent from Halifax to Boston, where it stands in the Prudential Center plaza as the city's official Christmas tree.


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