The whole feeling of Christmas in New York is ignited by the lighting of the famous tree at Rockerfeller Plaza. Considered by many American’s as a country-wide symbol of the holiday season, the tree, traditionally a Norway Spruce, is illuminated by 30,000 environmentally friendly LED lights on five miles of wire.
The kick-off of the season took place on 30 November 2011, as tens of thousands crowded the side walks for the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and hundreds of millions watched the star-studded event on TV. With the first Christmas tree placed at the very same spot by construction workers in 1931, it has become a permanent fixture during the season that attracts people from all over the world.
On display until 7 January 2012, travellers and locals alike often visit Rockerfeller Plaza with friends and family, taking pictures and soaking in the spirit of Christmas that the tree brings. Towering over people at a height of 23m (74 foot), the tree is topped with a Swarovski crystal star that weighs 550 pounds (250 kg) and is 9.5 feet (2.9 m) in diameter. Created by German artist Michael Hammers, this very star has made Rockerfeller Plaza its home since 2004.
Making the joy of Christmas giving even more meaningful, is how the tree is used when it is taken down. In its fourth year running, the tree is used to furnish lumber for housing construction under the Habitat for Humanity program. The trunk is used to build a new home for families in need reducing lumber costs by thousands for the non-profit organization. Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian housing organization building simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need.
Exploring Midtown Manhattan on foot is truly a colourful experience. As you approach Rockerfeller Plaza, you will also notice the many lights and Christmas décor along the streets and also the bright red Christmas tree at Radio City. If you’re in New York for the holidays, make sure to stop by Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th & West 51st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan to witness what this magnificent tree looks like in person!