World’s Largest Floating Christmas Tree Lights Up in Rio de Janeiro

Category: Media & Culture / Dec 03, 2012 11:47AM EDT
The holiday season kicked off in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday (December 1) with the lighting of the world's largest floating Christmas tree in the heart of the city. Over 100,000 people flocked to the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon to watch a 6-minute fireworks show, which has become one of Rio's main tourist attractions. This year, the gigantic 85-metre high metal structure built by Brazil's largest insurance company surprised the public with a decoration based on the four seasons of the Earth. The 542 tonne structure was dressed up with images of leeves representing the fall, snowflakes to portray winter, flowers related to spring and gold ribbons to represent the summer. There were also colorful knots tied up with balloons illuminated by 3.1 million lightbulbs. With the mountain-top Christ the Redeemer statue looking down on it, the treestands as a brightly flashing symbol of peace in the city that is often shaken by episodes of violence. Charles Leite, went for the sixth time to see the lighting of the floating tree with his family and said that this is always the time when he realizes that Christmas is coming. "Our routine is usually very fast so this is a good moment to spend with the family and realize that Christmas is here, it's like we wake up and realize it's Christmas. I think this lagoon tree helps us think that", he said. "It was the first time that I saw the lighting of this tree and I think it was really beautiful, it was very emotive, I cried, I thought it was wonderful", said Marcia Braune. The Christmas tree was first erected in 1996 and its lighting became Rio's third biggest tourist event after Carnival festivities and New Year's Eve on Copacabana beach. More than a million people are expected to view the structure before the lights are turned off on Three King's Day on January 6. The Guinness Book of Records lists it as the world's largest floating Christmas tree. In comparison, the Christmas tree in New York's Rockefeller Centre is 22.5 metres tall and has 30,000 lights, although it is a real Norwegian spruce.