The holiday season is here, and for many people, that means a trip to New York City to take a picture in front of the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
This year’s tree stands a whopping 72-feet, and weighs 12 tons. It is 75-years-old, and comes from Wallkill, New York, from the home of Shirley Figueroa and Lissette Gutierrez.
According to CBS News, the tree was located by Head Rockefeller gardener Erik Pauze, who scouted the tree on November 8.
And with a 72-foot tree means a large tree topper. This year’s topper is 9-feet, 4-in tall. It was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind.
Each year, 125 million people gather to watch the lighting of the Rockefeller tree. This year marks the 86th anniversary of the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting.
The website for Rockefeller Center reads, “From the beginning, the Tree was a gathering place and reflection of what was happening in the world around it. Even before the first formal tree went up, workers lined up beneath a Christmas tree on the Rockefeller Plaza construction site to collect their paychecks during the height of the Great Depression.”
After the September 11th attacks, the tree was decorated red, white, and blue, and these days, over half a million people pass the Tree each day.
This year’s lighting took place on Wednesday, November 28, at 8pm ET, and was broadcast on NBC. Those who attended the event in person were able to do so for free, and were required to arrive at 7pm ET at 30 Rockefeller Plaza to check out the lighting ceremony. As usual, space was given on a first hand, first serve basis.
How is the tree typically located? According to an AM New York article, “It’s an all-year process, where I’m constantly looking for trees to put on the list,” according to Erik Pauze. “I go around and visit prospective trees. If you get a tree that’s halfway decent looking, and you go visit it and it looks good in the picture but you get up close, and it’s not, then you go around that area, because maybe the climate and the weather isn’t too bad, so there may be another good one there.”
What happens after the holiday season? The tree is recycled. It is milled into lumber for a home built by Habitat for Humanity. Pauze tells AMNY, “We take it down, get it out of the plaza, and get it to a place in New Jersey. We mill it, then get it down to what’s usable and kiln-dry it. You’re not going to be able to build an entire house, but you’ll get a couple of window or door frames. It’s a pretty cool piece to have in your house.”
Each year, the tree is donated, so no money exchanges are required. This year’s owners say they hope the tree brings “unity and happiness” to New York City.