There’s nothing uncommon about seeing someone in full colonial garb on Boston Common, but when that costumed character is Canadian it can only mean one thing: Boston’s annual Christmas tree has arrived.

As Nova Scotia's chief town crier, the aptly named James Stewart, unfurled a ceremonial scroll he cried out to a small crowd gathered on Boston Common that included Santa Claus, and a 4th grade class from Boston's Horace Mann school who have been following the tree's journey from Canada with a group of elementary students from a school in Halifax. 

“Nova Scotia proud! Boston Strong! May this tree welcome all this Christmas season,” he proclaimed. 

True to a four-decade tradition, this year’s tree is once again a gift from the people of the Canadian province – an ongoing thank-you for aid sent there from Boston following the Great 1917 Halifax Explosion, when two ships collided in Halifax harbor, sparking a fire that killed an estimated 2,000 people and devastated parts of the city.

“There’s always been a connection between Halifax and Boston,” said Stewart. “There’s different times you say something is an honor and a privilege. This truly is. To bring this tree to the city of Boston is incredible.”

This year, the task of driving the precious cargo 700 miles from Halifax to Boston fell to Dave McFarlend.

“[I’m] very proud, but it’s nerve wracking at times,” he said. “I’m happier when I’m right here at the Boston Common and my job’s done. But I’m very proud to be able to do it for sure.”

The 47-foot white spruce will sky over the Common unadorned until the official tree lighting spectacular on December 1.