Nova Scotia

Councillor Brad Johns spends $25K on talking Christmas tree

To Councillor Brad Johns, a talking Christmas tree just felt right for Sackville.

'I wanted something that was unique for Sackville,' Johns says of purchase

Councillor Brad Johns hopes the talking Christmas tree will generate extra donations to local food banks. (CBC)

To Councillor Brad Johns, a talking Christmas tree just felt right for Sackville.

Days away from the tree’s unveiling, it promises to be distinctive — not quite like Woody, the erstwhile talking tree of Mic Mac Mall.

Its eyes, eyebrows and mouth move, and its voice even sounds something like Johns' own voice.

"I wanted something that was unique for Sackville," the councillor said on CBC Mainstreet on Tuesday.

"I mean, there's many communities around the province ... that become synonymous with something that they do. Spryfield’s got the Santa Claus Parade. You think of Windsor, you think of the pumpkin people. I thought, what better than to revive the concept of a talking tree?"

Made by a California company, the 18-foot tree costs $25,000 and has an expected lifespan of 10 years. Johns, who represents Middle and Upper Sackville, Beaverbank and Lucasville, paid for it out of his discretionary account.

It'll be more than worth the money, he said. He hopes it will generate about twice its cost in extra donations to local food banks.

"The actual animatronics, the face part of it, are in the trunk," he said.

"His eyes move, his eyebrows move, his mouth moves. You can actually interact with the children that are there."

The tree needs to stay inside, and he’s looking at installing it at Acadia Hall on Sackville Drive when it arrives in the next two days. Another option is the Springfield Lake Recreation Centre in Middle Sackville. It can be temporarily moved outside for special events, he said.

"One way is that you can actually work it via remote control and a microphone, so you can operate it live, or you can program a pre-program in it and let it run and do its show," he said.

"It snores, it sings, it does just about everything under the sun that you want it to."

The tree comes with its own voice, but people can also project their own voices into it, said Johns.

He isn't planning to do that himself, and says the tree's strange likeness to his own voice is just a coincidence.

"People tell me I sound like Mickey Mouse," he said.