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How much is the Rockefeller tree worth and what type of tree is it?

A tradition started 90 years ago ushers in the Christmas season in New York City with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center.

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How much is the Rockefeller tree worth and what type of tree is it?
CARLO ALLEGRI REUTERS

Construction workers building the Rockefeller Center during the Great Depression began a holiday tradition that has become “a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors alike.” In 1931 they scrapped together enough money to purchase a Christmas tree to place at the worksite.

Their tree was a modest 20 feet tall when compared with the almost 80-footer that towers over the Rockefeller Plaza and ice-skating rink below this year. The decorations have also become more extravagant, and there is only one type of pine tree that the person tasked with procuring it chooses.

The perfect tree for Rockefeller Plaza

According to Erik Pauze, the head gardener for Rockefeller Center, a Norway Spruce is prefect for the occasion. It’s “a tree you would want in your living room, but on a grander scale,” due to the “nice, perfect shape all around.” It can evoke a feeling of happiness and “instantly put a huge smile on” the faces of children when they turn the corner of 30 Rock and lay eyes on the tree.

For the past 30 years, Pauze has been in charge of finding the perfect tree for Rockefeller Center in addition to making sure it’s tenderly cared for in preparation for its trip and along the way to its final destination. This year’s tree came from 140 miles away in Maryland, the first time a tree has come from the state. Normally the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is sourced from Pennsylvania, New York or New Jersey.

The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza is donated every year

Instead of accepting money for the giant trees that adorn the Rockefeller Plaza, typically the owners donate their trees taking pride in the pleasure that the sight of it will give to locals and visitors who come to see the Christmas spectacle. Some approach Rockefeller Center, submitting their trees for consideration, others are asked if they are willing to part with their near century-old pines.

They don’t always want to see their beloved tree cut down, like the Price family whose 79 foot spruce was happened upon by Pauze back in March. They told WNBC-TV that when first approached they said “No way, you can't have it," but upon further reflection about their own Christmastime visits to Rockefeller Plaza understood the importance of the chosen tree.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be decked for the holidays

The official lighting ceremony began two years after the first tree was put up at Rockefeller Plaza in 1933. Over the years the decorations have become more and more elaborate with the tree now decked out with over 50,000 LED lights covering the 12-ton tree. Sitting at the very top will be a Swarovski-encrusted star featuring over 3 million crystals and LED lights, a tradition started in 2004.

Every year the lights are turned on the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving.