It’s an American Icon…the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lit up the New York City sky with 5 miles of LED multicolored lights and a 900-pound Swarovski crystal star. The whole extravaganza was broadcast on NBC Wednesday night.
Mayor Bill de Blasio flipped the switch to light the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree following a televised event that featured performances by Diana Ross and Tony Bennett.
Police officers guarded the area and thousands of spectators were funneled through security screening.
The 75-year-old tree was donated by a couple in Wallkill, NY, which is 60 miles north of New York City.
The tree’s lights will be illuminated every day from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. through January 6. On Christmas Day, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for a full 24 hours. After the tree is taken down January 7, it will be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.
According to NBC 4 in New York, here are some historical facts about the Rockefeller Center Tree:
• 1931 – Construction workers building Rockefeller Center put up a Christmas tree, the first-ever Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
- 1933 – First formal Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony. The tree was decked with 700 lights in front of the eight-month-old RCA Building.
• 1936 – Two trees, each 70 feet (21.3 m) tall, were erected. For the first time the Lighting Ceremony included a skating pageant on the newly opened Rockefeller Plaza Outdoor Ice Skating Pond.
• 1942 – Three trees were placed on Rockefeller Plaza, one decorated in red, one in white and one in blue to show support for our troops serving during World War II.
- 1949 – The tree was painted silver, to look like snow.
• 1951 – The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was lit for the first time on national television on the Kate Smith Show.
• 1966 – The first tree from outside the United States was erected. It was given by Canada, in honor of the Centennial of its Confederation. This is the farthest distance a tree has traveled to Rockefeller Center.
- 1980 – For the 50th Anniversary of Tree Lighting, a 70 foot-tall (21.3 m) Norway Spruce came from the grounds of the Immaculate Conception Seminary of Mahwah, N.J. Bob Hope participated in the Lighting.
• 1999 – The largest tree in Rockefeller Center history, 100 feet tall (30.5 m), came from Killingworth, Conn.
• 2004 – The Swarovski-designed star became the largest star to ever grace the tree.
- 2007 – For the first time, the tree was lit with energy-efficient LEDs. They draw a fraction of the power that had been traditionally required by the tree, reducing energy consumption from 3,510 kwH to 1,297 kwH per day, saving as much energy as a single family would use in a month in a 2,000 square foot (185.8 m²) home. Hundreds of solar panels atop one of the Rockefeller Center buildings help power the new LEDs.