November 17, 2017 1:45 pm
Updated: November 17, 2017 1:46 pm

Hundreds gather to watch Halifax send off its annual Tree for Boston

Hundreds of people gathered at Halifax's Grand Parade today to say bon voyage to a tree

Alexa MacLean

Hundreds of people gathered at Halifax’s Grand Parade on Friday to say bon voyage to a tree.

The 16-metre white spruce is Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston – the province’s annual Christmas gift to the New England city as a thank-you for help after the 1917 Halifax Explosion.

It was sent off on a flatbed truck over the noon hour by Deputy Premier Karen Casey and Mayor Mike Savage.

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READ MORE: Halifax Explosion Christmas tree prepared for journey to Boston from Cape Breton

Also on hand outside Halifax City Hall were Kelly Craft, the new United States ambassador to Canada, and Boston parks and recreation commissioner Christopher Cook.

The 45-year-old tree had been cut down in a ceremony Wednesday in Blues Mills, about 38 kilometres from Baddeck in Cape Breton.

It will receive a Halifax police escort to the U.S. border, and will also stop in Augusta, Maine., en route to Boston.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to return to Nova Scotia on behalf of the people of Boston for this wonderful tree departure celebration,” Cook said in a statement. “What began as tragedy a century ago has grown into a celebration of the human spirit and the lengths to which we will go to help one another in times of need.”

WATCH: Halifax explosion time capsule to connect past, present and future

Boston’s mayor will be joined by members of the RCMP on Nov. 30 for a tree-lighting ceremony on the Boston Commons, in which an estimated 20,000 people watch as 7,000 lights are turned on. It will be broadcast live on a local ABC affiliate.

Boston sent a trainload of volunteers and supplies to assist thousands of injured and homeless citizens in the city devastated by the Dec. 6, 1917, blast.

The explosion, the result of a collision between a relief vessel and a munitions ship in Halifax harbour, was the largest human-made blast on record before the first atomic bomb.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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