Copley Square welcomes holiday season with annual tree lighting


Ashlyn Wang

The Copley Square lighting.

By Ryan Forgosh, Staff Writer, News

Now that Thanksgiving is over, tree lightings spring up across Boston, including Copley Square’s Christmas tree lighting on Nov. 28. 

The square was filled with holiday spirit as families excitedly awaited the illumination of the tree. After nearly three years of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was a sign of normalcy for Allston resident Jeff Schwefel.

“[The] Faneuil Hall [tree lighting] was a little bit different from how it’s been in the past,” Schwefel said. “What we’re experiencing tonight at Copley Square is almost a carbon copy of what it was like before the pandemic.”

While Schwefel reveled in nostalgia, Boston resident Patricia Maria experienced the lighting for the first time, having never seen it decorated for Christmas. She found the square “beautiful” and wishes more events like this could be held throughout the year.

“We can do more things and celebrations like this,” Maria said.

Hosted by Jenny Johnson of Comcast Newsmakers with support from The Friends of Copley Square, Boston Properties, Encore Global, and the Fairmont Copley Plaza, the hour-long event hosted performances from members of the Boston Pops Esplanade Brass Ensemble, Boston gospel singer Ackeem Hill, the Boston Children’s Chorus, and Berklee College of Music singer Daniela Gomez. 

Before the first act took the stage, Boston police officer Stephen McNulty—who went viral for his acapella “Cop Pool Karaoke” video—performed the national anthem, kicking off an evening of musical performances, refreshments across the square, and an appearance from Santa Claus.

According to Claus, Christmas in Boston is luxurious compared to his home in the North Pole.

“In the North Pole it’s cold,” he said. “We have bare necessities. But if I’m here, I always get the nicest stage. People are so nice over here, too.”

Despite his appearance in Copley Square, it isn’t Claus’ favorite Boston Christmas tree.

“My favorite tree is the one they sent us from Christmas Island,” Claus said. “It’s from Nova Scotia.”

Since 1971, Nova Scotia sends Boston a Christmas tree each year as a “thank you” for Boston’s support in the Halifax Explosion in 1917. This tree will be lit on Dec. 1 in the Boston Common.

While Santa might prefer the tree in the Common to Copley Square, Schwefel loves the look of the illuminated square.

“It’s worth coming into the city and standing out in the cold for,” Schwefel said.

The quartet from the brass ensemble opened the event playing arrangements of “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” “Christmas Time is Here,” and “Sleigh Ride.” They also informed listeners that starting Dec. 1, the Boston Pops will start performing at Boston Symphony Hall with brand new material.

“I’d like to say the ink is still wet but that would date me, so let’s say the inkjet is still printing [the music],” said one member of the Pops.

Following the Boston Pops, Hill performed for the second consecutive year at the event, once again performing his renditions of popular Christmas songs.

“I think I did a good job last time and I’m going to try to do a good job this time,” Hill said before taking the stage.  

Hill performed “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “The Christmas Song.” It was during Hill’s performance that prominent feedback and echoing started. Director of Event Technology James Goyette explained how the sound issue came to be and ensured that next year, precautions would be taken to prevent the issue.

“Our sound engineers were adjusting the reverb a lot to give [the audio] that cathedral sound effect,” Goyette said. “That, and feedback from the generator caused the echo.” 

The Boston Children’s Chorus performed “Winter Wonderland” and “Spivak” before singer-songwriter Daniela Gomez took the stage, performing “Hallelujah” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

There are plenty more Christmas celebrations to come throughout December. On Dec. 1, the Boston Common lighting will take place followed by the Holiday Lights 2022 Ceremony on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.