An iconic piece of history in Atlantic Canada has returned this Christmas season.
The beloved Woody the Talking Christmas Tree is back at Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth, NS, after its departure about 15 years ago – and it’s got people talking not only on the East Coast but internationally as media from many places have picked up on the story.
“After Woody’s departure, he still had quite the fan following and there were local fans that kept him alive every year through social media and remembering and commenting on him,” said Tamitha Oakley, GM for Mic Mac Mall.
“And all of those children that had come to see Woody back in the day between the 80s and the early 2000s, they’re all grown and have children and grandchildren of their own, and they want to bring their children to come see Woody. He’s been such a beloved character to the Maritimers. It was our point to really bring him back in 2021, given that it has been such a challenging couple of years and some dark times.
“We really want to bring some light back to the Maritimers.”
The mall, which opened in 1973, is about 674,000 square feet and currently has about 113 businesses and services. The mall was purchased by the Ramia family, a local developer, in September of this year.
Woody stands just over 50 feet and is located in the centre court area of the shopping centre. Woody answers any questions that people have. There’s a walkup area where anyone can come up to talk to Woody and ask him any questions when he’s awake at different times of the day. It’s a one on one conversation.
“I think Woody came in the early 80s once the third floor was built. So somewhere around circa 1983. He came every Christmas with Santa to wake up and talk to the families and children who visited the mall,” said Oakley. “He retired to the North Pole in 2006. The ownership did a revamp of the holiday decor and they retired Woody at that time.
“We had been wanting to bring him back for a few years now and with the new owners they’re very passionate about the property, they have lots of wonderful development plans, and they were eager to bring the mall back to where we were at in its heyday which also includes Woody the Talking Christmas Tree. So it was a priority for them.
“Woody has picked up some international media attention over the last few weeks since his return. Obviously locally in the Maritimes he needs no introduction, everybody knows him well. But he’s been (talked about ) on Jimmy Fallon, CNN and a couple of different news stations in the U.S. and being referred to in Australia. So he’s been making his mark internationally.”
Like other shopping centres across the country, Mic Mac Mall has seen an increase in traffic this year compared to a year ago. It’s a trend that real estate retail experts have been predicting for this Christmas shopping season.
“We had a lot of restrictions in place last year that reduced occupancy in the shopping centre. I think our return we did it safely given that we are still in a pandemic and we’ve worked closely with the Nova Scotia Health Authority to ensure that . . . We want people to shop safely and so there’s only a small area where people can enter to visit Woody and it’s all with health and safety protocols in place by the public health authority,” explained Oakley.
“Our traffic is close to 2019 traffic, pre-pandemic, but we’re not there yet. People are still cautious to shop and of course online shopping has become more prevalent in 2020, 2021.”
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