By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro’s best-known and iconic symbol of the Christmas season, the Árvore de Natal da Lagoa (The Lagoa Christmas Tree), will be returning on December 1st after a two year absence due to lack of funding.
“The return of the tree is a sign of the recovery of the state,” celebrated Rio governor Luiz Fernando Pezão at a press conference on Tuesday (November 6th) announcing the tree’s return. “The state has lost R$40 billion in revenue in four years, but we are still here.”
The famed megastructure, considered the world’s largest floating Christmas tree, was last installed in its traditional spot in Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in 2015.
Now with new sponsor, Petrobras, in place, the tree returns with a lighting ceremony scheduled to take place on December 1st. The event will include a music and fireworks show and is expected to draw 200,000 spectators.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Ivan de Sá, Chief Executive Officer of Petrobras subsidiary, Petrobras Distribuidora S.A., explained that the return of the famous structure coincides with the positive direction of the Brazilian oil giant.
“For BR Petrobras, [the Lagoa Christmas tree] is very important because we are in a moment of growth for the company,” de Sá exclaimed. “We are going through a transformation.”
Just this week, Petrobras announced it had closed the third quarter of the year with a net profit of R$6.6 billion, more than 25 times higher than the same period last year.
This year’s Lagoa Christmas tree was designed by Grupo Artplan with the participation of over 1,200 engineers, technicians, and artists. It tops out at seventy meters tall and will be illuminated by over 900,000 led bulbs.
Starting December 1st, the tree will remain lit every night until January 6th.