By Karla Davis
Brrrrr! Winter has not yet come on full blast, but we can still feel the frosty air swirling past our cheeks. For many, that can mean two things : 1.) Christmas is almost here! Or 2.) The Rockefeller Center annual Christmas Tree Lighting has arrived. For those of you who may not know, the Rockefeller Tree Lighting is an annual ceremony held at 30 Rockefeller Plaza between 5th and 6th Avenues. This seasonal icon will enjoy its first shine on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, from 7-9 pm. The ritual of lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree has been one of the most popular public celebrations in New York City for the past 80-plus years. Another intriguing thing about this spectacle is that it is recognized around the world as a cheerful reminder of Manhattan’s winter holiday season.
So, How Does This Tree Come to Be?
People from around the USA write letters and send photos of their trees, offering them to Rockefeller Center.The dimensions that are desired for the “ideal tree” are 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide, even though the tree at Rockefeller Center is usually 75 to 90 feet tall. Thus, the tree is most likely a Norway Spruce, which is originally native to Northern Europe, not America. .Once the tree is picked and cut, the head gardener for Rockefeller Center counts the rings in order to get a more accurate measure of its age. Next, the tree travels on a custom-made telescoping trailer truck which stretches up to 100 feet and can hold a 125 foot tall tree.It takes about 15 to 20 people in addition to a 280-ton hydraulic crane to handle this tree. The same crane is used first to erect the tree and later remove it from its place of honor.
Afterwards, the tree is transported from wherever it was grown to NYC, travelling in the middle of the night with a police escort using a route designed to disrupt as little traffic as possible. Once it arrives the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is carefully set up in the Plaza Center off 50th street.
The unadorned Rockefeller Christmas tree usually arrives in Mid-November. Then comes Thanksgiving and “Black Friday,” when most major midtown stores show off their “holiday spirit” window displays. It is only after these preliminary events that the true holiday season begins. The massive evergreen is festively decorated by 30,000 environmentally friendly LED lights. All of these lights are strung along a surprising five miles of wire. Then, while towering over the plaza and its tiny skating rink, the gigantic Christmas tree is crowned with a huge Swarovski crystal star.