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CHRISTMAS

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

The annual Christmas tree, located in the heart of New York, is a must-see attraction for both locals and visitors. Where is the tree sourced?

A person works on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on Black Friday in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., November 24, 2023. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado
DAVID DEE DELGADOREUTERS

During the Great Depression, construction workers building the Rockefeller Center started a holiday tradition that has now become famous as “a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors alike.” In 1931, they managed to collect enough money to buy a Christmas tree, which they placed at the worksite. The first tree was only 20 feet tall, much smaller than the 82-foot behemoth that now stands over the Rockefeller Plaza and the ice-skating rink below. Over time, the decorations have become more extravagant, and the person in charge of selecting the tree now only chooses one specific type of pine tree.

The perfect tree for Rockefeller Plaza

It has been claimed that a Norway Spruce is an excellent choice for the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. According to Erik Pauze, the head gardener for Rockefeller Center, the tree has a “nice, perfect shape all around” and is reminiscent of a tree you “would want in your living room, but on a much grander scale.” When children turn the corner of 30 Rock and lay eyes on the tree, it can evoke a feeling of happiness, instantly putting a huge smile on their faces.

For over 30 years, Pauze has been responsible for finding the perfect tree for Rockefeller Center, making sure it is properly cared for and tended to in preparation for its journey, and along the way to its final destination. This year’s tree was sourced from Queensbury, New York; however, normally the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is acquired from Pennsylvania, New York, or New Jersey.

The Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza is donated every year

The owners of the giant trees that decorate the Rockefeller Plaza do not accept money for them. Instead, they donate the trees and take pride in knowing that locals and visitors who come to see the Christmas spectacle will enjoy them. Some people submit their trees for consideration, while others are asked if they are willing to part with their near-century-old pines.

Last year an 82-foot spruce tree from Queensbury was selected for the prized tradition. The official lighting ceremony for the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree began two years after it was first erected in 1933. Over the years, the decorations have become more elaborate, and now, the 12-ton tree is adorned with over 50,000 LED lights. At the very top, there’s a Swarovski-encrusted star with over 3 million crystals and LED lights, a tradition that began in 2004.

When are the lights turned on?

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

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