The Rockefeller Center tree of 2016 has arrived in midtown Manhattan to greet crowds of millions throughout the holiday season.
This year’s Rockefeller Christmas tree was donated by Angie and Graig Eichler. According to NBC New York, the colossal 94-foot Norway spruce made its 140-mile journey from the Eichlers’ Oneota backyard, located in upstate New York, to arrive at its awaiting place of honor on Friday, November 11. The 2016 Rockefeller Center tree will be the second tallest Christmas tree ever to preside over the plaza. The tallest tree was the 1999 Norway spruce, which spanned 100 feet in height. This year’s 14-ton tree is between 90 and 95 years old.
Every bough of the Christmas tree will be decked out in 50,000 colorful LED lights, which cover five miles of wire. For the finishing touch, the tree will be crowned with a Swarovski star that twinkles with LED lights reflecting off of one million facets of 25,000 crystals. The dazzling star measures 9.5 feet in diameter.
The iconic evergreen towers high over Rockefeller Plaza, which can be viewed between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and West 48th and 51st Streets. The tree is lit daily from 5:30 p.m. until midnight and remains lit for 24 hours on Christmas Day. Glittering gold angels and larger-than-life toy soldiers stand sentry around the plaza, and the area’s trees, now barren of leaves, are outlined in lights to give the illusion of ice-coated branches of a winter wonderland. For the most impressive ambiance, visitors should plan on viewing the Rockefeller Center tree in all of its sparkle and splendor after the sun goes down.
The first Rockefeller Center tree, donned in strings of cranberries, swags of paper garland and shiny tin cans, was displayed in 1931. The premier Christmas tree stood only 20 feet tall. In 1933, lights became a part of the Rockefeller tree’s traditional dressing. During the mid-1940s, however, the Rockefeller Christmas tree went dark in accordance with blackout rules imposed during World War II.
Tourists from around the globe flock to New York City to view the majestic world-renowned Rockefeller Center tree, providing an economic boon to surrounding shops, eateries and theaters. Many swap out their boots and sneakers for ice skates to glide around the rink amidst the yuletide backdrop. Spectacular holiday displays abound throughout Manhattan’s sidewalks, parks and shop windows, beckoning visitors young and old to bask in the glow of the holiday revelry. For indoor holiday entertainment, audiences duck into the warmth of Radio City Music Hall’s theater to take in the Rockettes as they take the stage for their performance in the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular show.
The holidays are about giving, and a new tradition of giving began for the Rockefeller Center tree 10 years ago. Once the holiday season passes, the dismantled spruce will be cut and treated to donate as lumber for building homes for Habitat for Humanity.
The Rockefeller Center tree will light up the plaza on Wednesday, November 30, and the city’s holiday beacon will continue to welcome tourists until the lights go off for the last time at 9 p.m. on January 7. Attendance at the highly anticipated tree lighting event is free to the public. The annual telecast of the tree lighting ceremony will air live on NBC, drawing audiences from across the nation. The two-hour event, listed as Christmas In Rockefeller Center, will feature live performances by some big names, including Josh Groban, Sarah McLachlan, Tony Bennet, Neil Diamond, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, and Trisha Yearwood. The legendary Radio City Rockettes will also kick up their heels.
If you plan on making a pilgrimage to see the tree, be prepared for densely packed crowds that will have you advancing ever so slowly toward the holiday attraction amidst the characteristic New York December chill. If that scenario threatens to unleash your inner Grinch, consider cozying up with the family on November 30 with mugs of hot cocoa in hand for some quality time as you watch the Rockefeller Center tree 2016 lighting ceremony on television.
[Featured Image by Andrew F. Kazmierski/Shutterstock]