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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Shines Bright in NYC

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Shines Bright in NYC

Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

The 2012 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was the tree that almost wasn’t.

Until recently, the approximately 80-year-old Norway Spruce lived an unassuming life in the driveway of Joe Balku of Flanders, New Jersey.

It was only by chance (and a missed turn) that the eagle-eyed team who, each year, chooses the lucky twig to grace the Rockefeller Center space ended up spotting it on Balku’s property in the first place.

Then there was a little storm called Hurricane Sandy.

Balku’s tree weighs in at approximately 10 tons and measures 80 feet tall and 50 feet in diameter. Despite its massive size, before Hurricane Sandy, the Rockefeller Center team had to wrap and secure the tree with more than 10,000 feet of rope and 2,000 feet of aircraft cable. It was a Herculean effort to make sure the tree would weather the storm and make the trip to Manhattan so it could lay claim to its rightful place in holiday tree history.

In 1931, area construction workers put up a Christmas tree – a balsam fir strung with nothing but cranberries, paper garlands and a few tin cans. Rockefeller Center officially began the Tree Lighting ceremony in 1933, when a Christmas tree was erected in front of the then eight-month-old RCA Building and covered with 700 lights. Since then, the Tree Lighting has become one of New York’s most popular events, attracting visitors from throughout the world.

Photo Credit: Byron Beck

“As a New Jersey resident I am proud to donate this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, a reflection of the spirit and resilience of the New Jersey community,” Balku said.

And what a tree it is. When this year’s tree arrived from New Jersey to New York City on November 14 (which this author was lucky enough to witness) you would never have known the tree had just survived a super storm just two weeks earlier. It was bright and beautiful and more than ready to be adorned with more than 45,000 multi-colored, energy-efficient LED lights strung over five miles of wire (hundreds of solar panels atop one of the Rockefeller Center buildings, near The Top of the Rock, will help power the lights). To top it off, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be crowned with a crystal star from Swarovski. The star is adorned with 25,000 crystals and one million facets that will radiate over midtown Manhattan from its perch atop the most famous Christmas tree in the world.

Photo Credit: Stan Honda/Getty Images

Joe and his “better half” of 30 years, Sally Ostby, were in the crowd when the tree was lit on November 28. “I am proud to donate this tree,” said Joe. “It is beautiful and really should be seen by everyone.”

The 80th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony took place on Wednesday, November 28th. The ceremony was televised nationally on NBC from 8-9 p.m. Spectators can view the lit tree each day from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; all day (24 hours) on Christmas; and from 5:30a.m. to 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. The last day to view the tree is January 7, 2013.

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