The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a large Christmas tree placed annually in Rockefeller Center, in Midtown Manhattan. The tree is erected in mid November and lit in a ceremony in late November or early December. In recent years, the lighting has been broadcast live, to hundreds of millions, the tree lighting ceremony is aired at the end of every broadcast, following live entertainment and the tree is lit by the current Mayor of New York City and special guests. An estimated 125 million people visit the attraction each year, the tree, usually a Norway spruce 69 to 100 feet tall, has been a national tradition each year since 1933. The 2016 Christmas Tree Lighting took place on November 30,2016, trees are traditionally donated to Rockefeller Center, which in turn donates the lumber after display. The trees are now scouted by Erik Pauzé, Head Gardener at Rockefeller Center, Pauzé visits nurseries throughout the tri-state area while keeping his eye out for one-of-a-kind backyard trees. Trees may also be submitted for consideration through Rockefeller Centers web site, Pauzé and his team choose each year’s tree based on its heartiness and “Christmas tree shape, ” as well as its ability to support the heavy ornaments. Local business Christmas Tree Brooklyn provides support in delivering the tree safely into the city, on its way to Manhattan, the tree is often dressed in giant red bows or banners extending holiday greetings to witnesses. Trucks, barges, and even a plane have all been used to help the tree make the trip. Once at Rockefeller Center, the tree is supported by four guy-wires attached at its midpoint, scaffolding is erected around the tree to assist workers in hanging about 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and the star top. The crystal star that has topped the tree since 2004 is 9.5 feet in diameter and this Swarovski Star, containing 25,000 Swarovski crystals,1 million facets, and LED lights, was created by German artist Michael Hammers. According to Rockefeller Center, workers pooled their money for that unlit tree, with the lighting of the first official tree, a 50 footer, two years later, the tree became what Rockefeller Center dubbed a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors alike. A skating rink was opened below the tree in the plaza in 1936, Rockefeller Center has observed the tree to be from the beginning. A gathering place and reflection of what was happening in the world around it, World War II ushered in simple, patriotic decorations, including red, white and blue unlit globes and painted wooden stars. In 1942, instead of one tree, three more modest trees were raised, each decorated in one of the flags colors. From 1944 until the end in 1945, the tree went unlit due to blackout regulations. After the war, the year of darkness was left behind, by the 1950s, workers began using scaffolding to decorate the tree, as larger trees were accommodated. Before the decade was over, the process called for 20 workers
Image: Rockefeller Center Tree
The first tree at Rockefeller Center, erected by construction workers in 1931 shortly after the site was cleared. Above, the workers line up for pay beside the tree, adorned with garlands made by workers' families.