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Woody The Talking Christmas Tree: Nova Scotians show their love for a Maritime tradition

Woody the Talking Christmas Tree in Dartmouth's Mic Mac Mall is pictured. (Paul Hollingsworth/CTV Atlantic) Woody the Talking Christmas Tree in Dartmouth's Mic Mac Mall is pictured. (Paul Hollingsworth/CTV Atlantic)
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DARTMOUTH, N.S. -

It wouldn't be Christmas without Woody The Talking Christmas Tree. That is the general consensus of most shoppers at the Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth, N.S.

Every year between Nov. 18 and Dec. 23, Woody wakes up from his deep slumber for Santa's grand arrival at the mall and this year, he was joined by dozens of shoppers and even bagpipe music, as everyone cheered and shouted for Woody to wake up.

"Christmas is a huge duty of care and when you're inviting people into your home, in this case the Mic Mac Mall, and creating a Christmas experience (it) becomes a tradition," said Lisa Flux, Mic Mac Mall's general manager.

On the daily, shoppers young and old line up and wait for Woody to wake up at noon so they can have a quick chat with him. Kids can also share something special happening in their lives or what they want for Christmas.

"My daughter talks all about Woody, she just loves him and talks about coming to see him every year. He just brings the excitement of Christmas for the kids and it's great that it's free," said Gabrielle MacDonald from Cole Harbour, N.S., who brought her three children.

"It's so awesome, my daughter can't take her eyes off of him and it's so personalized when he has conversations with the families," added Katelyn Pashvy, a mother who came with her nine-month-old daughter.

Mic Mac Mall first opened its doors in 1973 and just 10 years later, Woody made his debut to thousands of shoppers when the construction of the third level of the mall was completed. Over the years, he has had numerous facelifts, with his latest face giving him the title of Woody 3.0.

"(In the '80s) his first face did not articulate at all. His mouth was just made of tree branches and his mouth would only move up and down, and his eyes did not move at the time," said Tia Hathaway, Mic Mac Mall's guest services supervisor and local Woody expert.

"The second face was when his eyes could open but they couldn't move side to side and his mouth moved, and that's when his face was made of this papier mâché, and the third incarnation is the one we have today."

Sometime between the 1980s and the early 2000s, Woody went on hiatus and did not return for quite a while. Then in 2006, he disappeared again for 15 years due to structural issues with Woody's frame and a previous decision that was made to not bring him back.

"It was a dark year for us here at the Mic Mac Mall when he was gone, and the public and the whole province really showed us how much they loved him," added Hathaway.

In 2021, the Ramia family took over management of the mall and made it their mission to bring Woody back. Woody has since made appearances on CTV's The Social, talk shows in the U.K., Australia and the U.S., including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2021.

"The Ramia family are a Dartmouth family, born and raised, and are very involved in the entire Halifax Regional Municipality community and that was their promise and passion, to bring Woody back," added Flux, who says it takes up to 50 people to get Woody up and running each year.

When people are done visiting Woody, they are given a free tree sapling that they can take home and plant in their backyard to help Woody renew the forests and clean the air.

Also new this year is Woody's Store, where shoppers can buy various Woody merchandise like toques, magnets, car fresheners and even a "Woody hoodie," with all proceeds going towards the IWK Foundation in Halifax to help families in need.

Woody also has new woodland friends this year, various animals hidden in the trees that are all native to Mi'kma'ki, known as Nova Scotia today, but staff say Woody will always steal the show.

"It's funny because there are people who will walk by and shout 'WOODY!' And then others will say, 'Man, that's creepy,' so it's a part of his shtick I suppose," said Flux.  

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