Five Facts About The World-Famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

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Rockefeller Centre Christmas
Image courtesy of International Business Times

It just isn’t the holiday season until the tree at New York City’s Rockefeller Center has been lit. The iconic tree draws swarms of visitors each year, and a televised tree-lighting ceremony brings its festive lights into homes across America. Here are five things you might not have known about this favorite symbol of holiday cheer.

Humble Beginnings
The first Christmas tree on the site was decorated in 1931. Workers constructing Rockefeller Center informally adorned a spruce tree with homemade ornaments like tin cans and paper garlands, celebrating both the holiday and the fact that they had paid employment. Christmas 1932 was tree-less, but in 1933 the first official Christmas tree was erected in front of what was then called the RCA Building (today’s GE Building). It shone with just 700 lights, but started a tradition that endures today.

The Tree Is Green
The evergreen boughs aren’t the only thing that’s green when it comes to the Rockefeller Center tree. It’s decorated with more than 30,000 multi-coloured, energy-efficient lights that run partly on solar power. After the holidays, the tree is recycled into things like mulch for nature trails or lumber used to build homes for Habitat for Humanity.

Bigger Is Not Always Better
While many holiday decorations have gone super-sized in recent years, the size of the Rockefeller Center tree is limited by the width of surrounding streets; its height is restricted to 110 feet. It has to be small enough in diameter to fit under bridges and tunnels, too. The chosen tree is usually brought into the city at nighttime when traffic is minimal.

The Star of the Show
The giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center must have a topper to match. This year’s is certainly up to snuff. The 2012 Swarovski Star is made of 25,000 crystals with 1,000,000 facets. The crystals are encased in the same point-mounted safety glass that’s used in the exteriors of surrounding buildings. The nine-and-a-half-foot-wide wonder weighs 550 pounds.

Super Tree
This year’s Rockefeller Center tree is a survivor, withstanding Superstorm Sandy while nearby trees toppled. Discovered on the New Jersey property of Joe Balku, the 80-foot-tall, 10-ton Norwegian Spruce is a proud testament to strength in the face of adversity, a message that will resonate with those who weathered Sandy and are still feeling her effects this holiday.


Author Bio

Jennie is a holiday decorating consultant, blogger and self-described “Christmas fanatic.” To those living in Northern Calgary, she recommends the services of Calgary Holiday Lighting Installation, for professional holiday lighting installation.

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