Every year a Christmas tree is lit up in Rockefeller Center in New York City, kicking-off the start of the holiday season and a hallmark for the city. This year I was fortunate enough to attend the annual tradition and captured video of the celebration and musical performances.
More than 45,000 multi-colored lights illuminated the 94-foot Norway spruce from Oneonta, New York. A nine-foot star adorns the top of the tree, weighing 550 pounds and covered in 25,000 Swarovski crystals. The selected tree is generally donated to the Rockefeller Center. After it serves its use for display, the lumber from the tree is donated to Habitat for Humanity. Trees are selected based on their hardiness to hold the heavy ornaments, and their “Christmas tree shape.” This year’s tree is the second tallest Rockefeller tree in its 84-year history. It will remain lit and can be viewed everyday now through January 7, 2017.
The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting has been an annual tradition for the past seven decades. It attracts thousands of visitors and tourists to Rockefeller Center who watch the Christmas tree light up. The event is filled with live entertainment and celebrity guests.
The tradition started long before the event was televised. The first formal tradition started in 1933, however locals decorated a Christmas tree in the Rockefeller Center before that. During the height of the Great Depression, workers decorated a Christmas tree with strings of cranberries, garlands of paper (made by the workers’ families) and tin cans. The tree was a symbol of hope and reflection. Today, more than half a million pass by the Tree every day, making the Rockefeller tree one of the most iconic trees in the country.