In the heart of New York City, a colossal arboreal marvel is poised to grace the Rockefeller Center, heralding the festive season's arrival. This year's chosen behemoth, a towering spruce hailing from Vestal, N.Y., embodies a venerable age of 80-85 years. Weighing a formidable 12 tons, it stands at a majestic 80 feet tall and spans 43 feet in width. Its journey culminates at the Rockefeller Center Plaza on November 11, where it will be welcomed amidst a tapestry of festivities - from heartfelt letters penned to Santa, to the creation of unique ornaments, and the enchantment of book readings.
Erik Pauze, the Rockefeller Center's head gardener, has been the maestro behind the selection of these yuletide sentinels for three decades. His role is a symphony of tasks: from nurturing the tree, to the precision of its measurement and the intricacies of its transport - a venture that often spans months. Pauze's journey began in 1988 as a seasonal aide, and he now oversees the verdant realms of the Center. In an interview, he shared his vision for the perfect tree - one that would not only befit a grand living room but also ignite joy and wonder in the hearts of children rounding the corner at 30 Rock.
The Rockefeller Center traditionally adorns these Norway spruces, lauded for their robust stature. The 1999 tree still stands as a record-breaker at 100 feet tall, sourced from Killingworth, Conn. This year's spectacle will shimmer under the glow of over 50,000 lights, strung along five miles of wire. Crowning the tree is a star that is not just a mere topper but a spectacle in itself - adorned with 3 million Swarovski crystals, spanning about 70 spikes, and weighing approximately 900 pounds, a dazzling creation first introduced in 2004. The tree's lighting, a spectacle that garners nationwide attention, will be broadcast live on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on November 29. This grandeur, however, is ephemeral, as the tree will bid farewell on January 13, 2024.
The Rockefeller Center tree tradition, a thread woven into the fabric of New York's history, began modestly in 1931. It was birthed from the collective efforts of employees who acquired a 20-foot balsam fir, adorning it with handmade garlands. By 1933, this practice had crystallized into an annual ceremony, complete with its inaugural official lighting. The iconic ice skating rink, nestled beneath the tree, made its debut in 1936, further entrenching this tradition in the city's cultural tapestry.