As It Happens

Woody the talking Christmas tree returns to N.S. mall after 15-year hiatus

Hundreds of Nova Scotians headed to the mall on Friday to gaze upon the "beautiful, jovial face" of Woody the talking Christmas tree. 

Mall manager insists Woody simply went to the North Pole to help Santa and returned well-rested

Woody the Talking Christmas Tree was unveiled at the Mic Mac Mall in Darmouth, N.S., on Nov. 19. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Hundreds of Nova Scotians headed to the mall on Friday to gaze upon the "beautiful, jovial face" of Woody the talking Christmas tree. 

The beloved interactive holiday decoration has made a "triumphant return" to the Mic Mac Mall in Darmouth, N.S., after a 15-year hiatus. 

"It's quite exhilarating," Tamitha Oakley, the mall's general manager, told As It Happens host Carol Off.  "He has come back to his beloved Maritime fans and they have welcomed him with open arms."

A 'magical' voice

Woody is a 15-metre tall robotic Christmas tree adorned with colourful decorations and a big, rosy-cheeked face. His big lips move when he speaks, and he's known to bat his curly lashes.

Visiting the massive evergreen was a beloved annual tradition for many Nova Scotians for years before Woody fell into mechanical disrepair and was retired from use about 15 years ago. He's now re-emerged with a refurbished face. 

Woody doesn't just blast pre-recorded greetings at shoppers. The tree actually interacts in real time with children who approach him.

Oakley dodged questions about who controls Woody's voice.

"There are mechanics of Woody, but we like to refer to it as a magical talking Christmas tree," she said. "He sleeps quite often in the mall, but he does wake up and talk to children every day."

The original Woody has a slightly different face. (CBC )

When developer Joe Ramia bought the mall in September, he vowed to bring Woody back to the mall-going masses, reports SaltwireNetwork

But if you ask Oakley, Woody was simply on an away-mission this whole time. 

"He left 15 years ago and went to the North Pole to help Santa and the elves sustain the magical forest up in the North Pole," she said. 

"Woody decided to come back because it's been a really tough couple of years, and he wanted to bring some magical cheer back to the Maritimers and all of his fans."

He did not leave because people thought that he was creepy.- Tamitha Oakley, Mic Mac Mall manager 

The new Woody unveiled Friday has the same rosy cheeks as the original, but his arguably menacing grimace has been replaced with a fresh, bright smile. 

Oakley insisted his new look is the natural result of all the rest he's gotten in the North Pole.

"He did not leave because people thought that he was creepy," she said. 

In fact, she said the tree's original fans are all grown up, "and they have been the biggest supporters of Woody's return."

Hundreds of people showed up at the mall to catch a glimpse — or have a chat — with Woody. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Woody has been generating plenty of buzz since his return. Many locals on social media have praised him as a "historical monument" and a "Christmas treasure." Others have said they plan to steer clear of the tree

Woody even got a shout-out on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, who said with a deadpan delivery: "Some people think it's cute, while others think it's a little — creepy."

Oakley says Woody appreciated the publicity, and that he'd love to send Fallon a "wonderful thank-you note."

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Sarah Jackson.

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