By Sarah Brown, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Árvore de Natal da Lagoa (The Lagoa Christmas Tree) has long been an iconic and festive symbol in the lead up to Christmas in Rio de Janeiro. Yet for the first time in twenty years, locals and tourists will not see the iconic megastructure this Christmas.
Bradesco has been the exclusive sponsor of the tree for the last twenty years, but decided to discontinue funding this year. In an official note to local news outlet O Dia, the company confirmed this decision.
“The Bradesco Seguros Grupo is very proud to have sponsored the Lagoa Christmas Tree for twenty consecutive years. In that period it contributed with great commitment to the tree becoming one of the symbols of the city of Rio de Janeiro,” the company said.
Bradesco justified their decision, citing “its cycle as exclusive sponsor is complete” and had already informed the mayor, the tree’s founder and the people involved of this commitment in the first semester of this year.
A lack of interest from other companies in filling Bradesco’s boots and a serious financial crisis scenario in the state has undermined the possibility of continuing with the twenty-year old tradition. Riotur, the state’s tourism company, reported that currently, there are no further plans to construct any other Christmas reminder in other tourist hotspots.
Danielle Sampaio, a Rio resident, expressed her feelings about the lack of tree this year. “I can’t believe this year won’t have the tree. I love going to see it, it’s the thing to do in December and gets me in the mood for Christmas.” She added, “It’s sad to say, but I’m not surprised actually. We are going through a hard time economically here.”
Standing at 53 meters high, the tree was a colossal landmark of the Christmas period and represented a key spot in the festive calendar. The ceremony of the tree lighting was accompanied by free music performances and widely attended.
The value of the tree’s investment was never revealed yet Projeto Colabora attempted to calculate the value through a survey. They concluded that the money invested in twenty editions of the tree would have been enough to have cleaned the lake three times.