JUST THE FACTS: 2013 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting

JUST THE FACTS: 2013 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting
Positively El Paso
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 4:43pm

The lighting of the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center in the heart of New York City is a tradition that has been around for over 80 years.

Being the most recognizable tree in the world, NewsChannel 9 would like to provide you with some fun facts about the biggest Christmas party in the world.

Just the facts:

The Event:

• The 81st Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, December 4, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

• The ceremony will be televised locally on KTSM-TV from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

• Spectators can view the lit tree each day from 5:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.; all day (24 hours) on Christmas; and from 5:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

• The Tree will remain lit and can be viewed until 11pm on January 7th, 2014.

The Star:

Swarovski has announced that for the 10th year, it will reveal the 2013 Swarovski Star for the world-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on Thursday, November 14.

• After the reveal, the Star will be raised atop the 76-foot high, 47-foot wide, 12-ton Norway Spruce in Rockefeller Center, where it will sit for the remainder of the 2013 holiday season.

• The Swarovski Star is comprised of 25,000 crystals, with 1,000,000 facets, and it measures 9 ½ feet in diameter and 1 ½ feet deep. The Star weighs 550 pounds, including 300 pounds of crystal panels, and is composed of six outer rays and six smaller inner rays.

• The Star is illuminated by 720 energy-efficient LED bulbs on 3,000 feet of wire.

• A team of nine artisans spent 1,200 hours installing, programming and testing the Star to ensure the effects would withstand the challenging winter weather conditions sitting 76-feet above Rockefeller Plaza.

• Originally created for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 2004, the Star was updated in 2009 to feature its dynamic light movement.

History and Trivia:

Following are excerpts from Rockefeller Center’s History page and Time magazine’s A Brief History of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

• “The first Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center was a spindly balsam erected on the construction site in December, 1931.” According to Time Magazine, “On Christmas Eve 1931, with the nation mired in the Great Depression, a group of construction workers erected a 20-ft. tree on the muddy site of what would become one of the city's greatest architectural and commercial monuments. Despite their grim faces, the men had cause to celebrate. Unlike most of their colleagues, they were about to get paid.”

• “Two years later, the first “official” tree--a handsome specimen standing 50 feet tall--was unveiled in its famous spot in Rockefeller Plaza, and the lighting ceremony was broadcast nationwide over NBC Radio.” According to Time , the “Christmas tree was erected in front of the then-RCA Building and covered with 700 lights”.

• According to Time, “In 1951, NBC televised its first tree lighting on The Kate Smith Show, hosted by the "first lady of radio" herself, above. From 1953 to 1955, children across America watched the ceremony on Howdy Doody. Since then, the tree lighting has featured a number of famous personalities — Barbara Walters in 1972, Bob Hope in 1982, Lily Tomlin in 1985 and Liza Minnelli in 1990. Time also reports that the a the 4-ft. plastic star adorned the tree during the 1950s and '60s and a fiberglass and gold-leaf star adorned the tree during the late 1990s.

• “Spurred by the growing environmental movement, Rockefeller Center recycled its first Christmas tree in 1971, turning it into 30 three-bushel bags of mulch for the nature trails of upper Manhattan.”

• “The 75th tree marked the start of a new eco-friendly tradition in 2007. It was cut down with a two-person handsaw, and illuminated by 30,000 LEDs that used a fraction of the energy of normal bulbs. When the time came to take the tree down, Rockefeller Center partnered with Habitat for Humanity, which milled and treated it for future use as “green” lumber.”

• While Time notes that "Christmas trees in Rockefeller Center have ranged from 50-foot Pines to 100-foot Norway Spruces”, Rockefeller Center says, “the largest of Rockefeller Center’s trees was the 100-year-old, 100-foot-tall, ten-ton Norway Spruce erected in 1999.”


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