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8.I.C

New York City (NYC)
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

 
 
Rockefeller Christmas Tree
 
     
 
Update:
The 2014 Lighting Display will take place on Wednesday, December 3rd.
Click here for more details.

 
     
 

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony has been one of the most celebrated and crowd pleasing holiday traditions in NYC for over 75 years. NBC produces a live telecast of this celebrity studded event, featuring performances by famous artists. The tree itself is a cascade of green branches adorned with five miles of lights and a sparkly Swarovski star atop. It is located in Rockefeller Plaza, a half block west of Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. There are two rows of illuminated angels “sounding” their trumpets in front of it, and an army of giant tin soldiers lined along the ice skating rink.

It all begins with the search for a perfect tree. People from all over the United States submit photos of their trees, offering them to Rockefeller Center. The tree is donated; the only compensation to the donor family is the pride of having their tree displayed at the Rockefeller Center. The Rockefeller Center gardens management specifies the desired dimensions: a minimum of 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide. However, the selected tree is usually 75 to 90 feet tall and proportionately wide. This means that the tree is typically a Norway Spruce, a native of Northern Europe. However, Norway Spruce normally don’t reach those dimensions in forests, so the Rockefeller Center tree is most likely to be one that was planted for ornamental purposes.

More than 30,000 multicolored, 7 1/2-watt bulbs arestrung on over 5 miles of electrical wire to decorate the tree. Each branch is individually wrapped to achieve the full lighting effect and there were no other ornaments on the tree except for the star on top. The tree is recycled and the 3 tons of mulch are donated to the Boy Scouts. The largest portion of the trunk is donated to the U.S. Equestrian team in New Jersey to use as an obstacle jump.

 
     
 

History of the Rockefeller Center Tree:

1931 - Workmen on a muddy construction site put up a Christmas tree.
1933 - First formal Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony. The tree was decked with 700 lights in front of the eight-month-old RCA Building.
1936 - Two trees, each 70 feet tall, were erected. For the first time the Lighting Ceremony included a skating pageant on the newly opened Rockefeller Plaza Outdoor Ice Skating Pond.
1942 - Three trees were placed on Rockefeller Plaza, one decorated in red, one in white and the other in blue to show support for our troops serving during World War II.
1949 - The tree was painted silver, to look like snow.
1951 - The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was lit for the first time on national television on the Kate Smith Show.
1966 - The first tree from outside the United States was given by Canada, in honor of the Centennial of its Confederation. This is the farthest distance a tree has traveled to Rockefeller Center.
1999 - The largest tree in Rockefeller Center history, 100 feet high, was chosen from Killingworth, CT.
2004 - The Swarovski-designed star is created. It is the largest star to ever grace the tree, measures 9 1/2 feet in diameter and 1 1/2 feet deep, and is adorned with 25,000 crystals and one million facets.

 
     
 
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Sources:
RockellerCenter.com
Manhattan.About.com/EventsandAttractions/TreeLighting
NYC.com/RockefellerCenterChristmasTree
GoNYC.About.com/ChristmasSights/RockCenterTree

 
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