HomeNewsWATCH: Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting Dazzles

WATCH: Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting Dazzles

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Christmas seems to creep in earlier and earlier with each passing year. Holiday ads air in the middle of summer. Snowmen and Santa Clauses pack the shelves before Halloween. Martha Stewart has even resorted to making public pleas for Mariah Carey to stop riding in on animatronic reindeer three weeks ahead of Thanksgiving.

No matter how far from December Christmas slides, however, the true start of Santa season remains the same. With the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, of course.

Late last night (November 30), the season officially began, the towering tree adding a touch of holiday cheer to the streets of New York City, the gathered crowd erupting in applause at the awe-inspiring sight.

Every year since 1933, a monstrous evergreen tree is chosen from a northeastern forest. It’s then trimmed with hundreds of ornaments and more than 50,000 multi-colored LED bulbs. Finally, it receives the finishing touch: a giant, 900-pound Swarovski star covered in around 3 million crystals, its dazzling glow beckoning tourists and locals alike toward 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

This year’s festivities were made even more exciting with performances from Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, Jimmie Allen, the Radio City Rockettes, and Dan + Shay, just to name a few.

How Do They Pick the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree?

As an iconic element of the Christmas season, the Rockefeller tree can’t be just any spruce. In order to receive the honor, the tree must exceed 65 feet in height. The largest tree to date was 100 feet tall! After the tree-lighting ceremony, the Rockefeller Christmas tree remains a centerpiece of NYC until the first week of January.

This year’s mountainous tree is a Norway Spruce stretching 82 feet skyward and 50 feet wide. At 90 years old, the spruce tipped the scales at 14 tons when harvested from a New York forest.

When New Year’s festivities are over, the lights, ornaments, and breathtaking star are all carefully removed from the tree. It’s then donated to a charitable cause. In years past, the tree was ground into mulch and donated to the Boy Scouts of America.

More recently, however, Habitat for Humanity has become the new benefactor. In a recent Instagram post, Habitat for Humanity explained their use of the spruce.

“Did you know that every year since 2007, lumber milled from the Rockefeller Center tree has been used to help a family build their Habitat for Humanity house?” they wrote. “Once the tree comes down, the trunk is milled into two-by-four and two-by-six beams that Tishman Speyer, the owner and operator of Rockefeller Center, donates to Habitat.”