<![CDATA[NBC New York - holidays]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/holidays http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sun, 21 Dec 2014 22:29:48 -0500 Sun, 21 Dec 2014 22:29:48 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Stuffed Santa Clawed by Black Bear]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:38:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/179*120/12-18-2014-SantaClawed.JPG

A California photographer captured an unusual animal attack in the Angeles National Forest: a black bear beating up Santa Claus.

Glendora native Robert Martinez has 10 cameras set up to watch wildlife, and put a Father Christmas doll in front of one of them in the hope of attracting the attention of a mountain lion.

And while one did stop to stare at the doll before padding away, it was a carnivore of a different kind that made his efforts worthwhile.

The black bear decided to have some fun with the Santa doll on Monday, knocking it over and smacking it around with it until he got bored.

Amazingly, Martinez said he had not seen a bear in the area for the past 2 months.

<![CDATA[Find the Perfect Present: Gift Guide 2014]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 20:28:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gift-guide-promo2.jpg
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<![CDATA[Top 10 Facebook Posts of 2014]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:18:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP475956911591.jpg

From the deaths of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers to the viral email from a 9/11 survivor, you turned to Facebook to get news updates from NBC New York.

The most popular posts also included more lighthearted moments, such as the Rockefeller tree-lighting ceremony and how Derek Jeter stayed away from scandal during his career.

These are the Facebook posts you read, shared, and liked the most in 2014.

1. Rihanna Donates $25,000 to LAPD After Selfie Fail During Clippers Game: This post about how Rihanna accidentally dropped and cracked the LAPD Commissioner's phone and how she made up for it was our most clicked Facebook post of all time.

2. Beloved Comic, Actor Robin Williams Dead at 63: More than 46,000 people clicked on this post about beloved comic Robin Williams' death.

3. Comedic Legend Joan Rivers Dies at 81: Many Facebook followers flocked to this post after hearing that Joan Rivers passed away.

4. Parole Denied Yet Again for Lennon's Killer: Many people liked this post about John Lennon's killer being denied parole. 

5. Four Hours After Birth, "Bucket List" Baby Dies: After following #shanesbucketlist for months, Facebook followers continued to read about his story even after his death.

6. From the Archives: Survivor Recalls His Viral 9/11 Email: Although it was originally posted on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, people did not get tired of reading this inspiring viral email.  

7. Popular NYC-Based Cupcake Chain Shuts Down: Many people were upset after clicking on this story about the Crumbs Cupcake chain abruptly closing.

8. "Cake Boss" Admits to Driving While Impaired in NYC: More than 178,000 people clicked on this post about the Cake Boss getting arrested. 

9. Rockefeller Center Tree Illuminated at Star-Studded Ceremony: Your favorite post and ours, the Rockefeller tree lighting, was our most liked post ever, with over 112,000 likes.

10. Derek Jeter on His Spotless Image: "I Never Wanted to Embarrass My Parents": Derek Jeter managed to stay scandal-free for most of his career. His reasons why led to one of our most-clicked posts of the year.

Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
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<![CDATA[Top 10 Tweets of 2014 From NBC New York]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 09:17:38 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Cake-Boss-NY-Covrette-Inset.jpg

From the explosion of a building in East Harlem to the death of Eric Garner and the protests that followed, you turned to Twitter to get news updates from NBC New York. 

The most popular tweets also included more lighthearted moments, such as a bear cub getting stuck in a cookie jar and a highway sign that warned of Godzilla. 

These are the tweets you read and retweeted the most in 2014. 

1. TLC's "Cake Boss" Arrested on DWI Charges in Manhattan: NYPD: This tweet about the Cake Boss getting arrested was retweeted more than 14,000 times, setting the record for the most retweeted post from @nbcnewyork this year. 

2. Medical Examiner Rules Eric Garner's Death a Homicide, Says He Was Killed By Chokehold: More than 1,000 people shared this tweet about Eric Garner's death with their own Twitter followers. 

3. NYC Explosion Death Toll at 8, With 3 Still Missing in the Smoldering Rubble: Many people retweeted the breaking news of a building explosion in East Harlem in March. 

4. Port Authority Workers Move Into Four World Trade Center, Become First Office Workers in Complex Since 9/11 Attacks: The return of workers to the World Trade Center was popular for retweets and favorites. 

5. Body Parts Found in East River Matched to Missing Teen Avonte Oquendo: The identification of the remains of Avonte Oquendo, an autistic teen who ran out of his school, was retweeted and read by many. 

6. Jason Collins Cheered in Home Debut As Nets Rout Bulls: Jason Collins made history as the first openly gay NBA player. His reception at Barclay Center was among our most-clicked tweets of the year. 


7. Tracy Morgan Remains in Critical Condition After Crash: Many Twitter readers were interested to learn about a crash that critically injured Tracy Morgan. 

8. Rockefeller Center Tree Illuminated at Star-Studded Ceremony: One of our most popular tweets of the year was also one of our favorites, the lighting of the Rockefeller tree!

9. San Francisco Sign Hacked, Warns of "Godzilla Attack": This hacked sign got a lot of attention. 

10. Bear Cub Rescued After Head Gets Stuck in Cookie Jar: Sometimes life imitates Pooh Bear. This was one of our most retweeted post of the year. 

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<![CDATA[Thousands of 911 Calls Traced Back to Mentally Ill Man Seeking Music; Dispatchers Give Him Song]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:28:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_911elves1218_700x394.jpg After thousands of 911 calls are traced to mentally disabled man simply hoping to find music on the telephone, dispatchers offer a heartwarming solution. Nadine Wimmer reports.]]> <![CDATA[Military Dad Surprises Son, 6, at School in Santa Outfit]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:20:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_santasurprise1217_700x394.jpg A father returning from military service in South Korea surprised his 6-year-old son by showing up to the boy's Tennessee school in a Santa costume.]]> <![CDATA[Top Christmas Apps Designed for Kids]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 09:38:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_pcmike1216_700x394.jpg Tech guru PC Mike Wendland takes a look at Christmas apps designed for kids.]]> <![CDATA[Last-Minute Holiday Shipping Tips]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:21:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_holidayshipping1215_700x394.jpg How can you ensure your holiday packages arrive on time? Kurt Gregory reports.]]> <![CDATA[Cops Help Man Shoplifting Formula for Baby Buy Supplies Instead of Arresting Him]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 10:52:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_formulashoplifter1216_700x394.jpg Police responding to a report of a New Mexico man shoplifting formula to feed his baby help the man buy supplies instead of arresting him. Lauren Hansard reports.]]> <![CDATA[Top 21 I-Team Stories of 2014]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:45:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/I-Team+Photo+720x406+REVISED.jpg

NBC 4 New York's I-Team led the way with exclusive, critical reporting in 2014 on issues ranging from abuse of power and chemical danger zones to health care, hacking, hidden natural gas leaks and how cash-strapped publicly funded places are spending taxpayer dollars.

Revisit the Top 21 I-Team stories of the year below.

Sign up for our newsletter here to get the latest I-Team stories delivered to your inbox or phone.

Women Panhandling With Babies on NYC Streets Swap Kids, Refuse City Handouts in Possible Coordinated Scheme (originally aired 11/11/14)

A group of women is using infants and toddlers to panhandle on the streets and subway platforms of Manhattan in what appears to be a coordinated effort, and they consistently refuse city services that could help them, an NBC 4 New York I-Team investigation has found. After Melissa Russo's initial report, the city said it would take steps to address the situation.

New Jersey Hospital Charges Man Nearly $9,000 to Bandage Cut Finger (originally aired 8/5/14)

A New Jersey hospital charged a teacher nearly $9,000 to put a bandage on his middle finger, an NBC 4 New York I-Team investigation has found. Chris Glorioso reports.



Lifeguards Distracted on the Stand (originally aired 7/31/14)

Jonathan Vigliotti went undercover to see which lifeguards were keeping an eye out on safety, and which ones were distracted by their phones or friends.



3,000 Tri-State Bridges Deemed "Structurally Deficient" (originally aired 8/14/14)

Hundreds of bridges in the tri-state area are “structurally deficient” and need repair, an I-Team review of inspection records has found. Those records show that structural conditions at numerous bridges in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are deteriorating fast. Engineering experts say none of the spans is on the verge of collapse, but warn some bridges need work to help avoid the kind of disaster that struck in Minneapolis seven years ago when the collapse of the Interstate 35 West bridge killed 13 people. Jonathan Dienst reports.



Urgent Care Centers Are Booming, But Some Say Regulatory Standards Aren't Keeping Up (originally aired 11/18/14)

Urgent care centers, where speedy service is promised and walk-ins are welcome, are becoming an increasingly popular recourse for sick or hurt people across the tri-state area looking for quick remedies to everyday health concerns. But are industry standards keeping up with the industry boom? Pei-Sze Cheng reports.



NYC District Attorneys Can't Get Meeting With Mayor (originally aired 10/7/14)

New York City's five district attorneys have tried for months to get a group meeting with Mayor de Blasio to discuss crucial budget and public safety issues, as they have with past mayors, but their requests have been ignored, NBC 4 New York has learned. After Melissa Russo's reporting, a meeting with the district attorneys and the mayor was scheduled.



Hacker Posts Private Live Streams of Hundreds in Tri-State (originally aired 11/20/14)

Wireless surveillance cameras, webcams and baby monitors allow users to stream video on the web anytime from anywhere so they can always keep tabs on their valuables. Their blinking lights signal security, but NBC 4 New York's I-Team has found thousands of seemingly secure feeds -- on everything from cribs to a pet’s litter box -- are making their way online for all to see. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.



Many Communities in Chemical-Risk Zones Are Unaware of the Dangers (originally aired 11/25/14)

When a poisonous gas leak killed four workers near Houston, Texas, earlier this month, Amy Rafano felt worried. The New Jersey PTA mom lives near several chemical plants, and sends her son to school nearby – including the Ashland plant in Parlin which houses 1.2 million pounds of the flammable chemical ethylene oxide. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.



Some HIV-Positive NYers Purposely Get Sicker for Housing Benefits (originally aired 12/1/14)

Advocates believe HIV patients in New York City are purposefully skipping medication and making themselves sicker to qualify for the city's housing assistance program. Chris Glorioso reports.



Many Tri-State Schools Use Football Helmets That Don't Protect Well Against Concussions (originally aired 11/3/14)

Over a period of two months, the I-Team asked about 200 schools in the tri-state area what kind of helmets they use and found many use helmets that received low marks in a Virginia Tech study that evaluates the likeliness of football helmets to reduce concussion risk. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.



Lax Criminal and Sex Offender Checks on Camp Staff May Put Kids at Risk (originally aired 7/15/14)

When Michelle Fusaro was choosing a camp for her 4-year-old daughter, she assumed that the staff had been screened for criminal records. So she was shocked when she learned that many camps in New Jersey, where she lives, were cited last year for failing to do background checks -- and that many camps in the tri-state area are not required to do them at all. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.



Cash-Strapped School District Spends Thousands on Takeout (originally aired 7/8/14)

Budget cuts and tight resources plague Newark public schools, but even in these tough economic times, the Newark Public Schools District has approved tens of thousands of dollars a month in spending on takeout food and catering. Chris Glorioso reports.



President Obama Rejected From Top NY Golf Courses Over Labor Day Weekend: Sources (originally aired 9/8/14)

President Obama was turned down at several top golf courses in Westchester while he was visiting the area over Labor Day weekend, sources tell NBC 4 New York. Jonathan Dienst reports.



Utilities Keep Secret the Locations of Gas Leaks (originally aired 4/28/14)

Consolidated Edison urges the public to call authorities if they smell gas, but the utility -- and many others in our area -- decline to detail the locations of known, active gas leaks. A lawmaker drafted a bill in response to Chris Glorioso's report to require utilities to reveal the locations of the gas leaks and submit information on repairs. The day this Top 21 piece was posted, Con Edison released a map detailing the locations of its active leaks.



FDNY Firefighter Sues Staten Island Homeowner for Alleged Injuries Suffered on Call (originally aired 9/23/14)

Dozens of firefighters in the tri-state area have sued property owners for injuries they got on the job. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.



NJ Lawmakers Have Staffers Cast Their Votes (originally aired 9/29/14)

When lawmakers vote on bills, you might expect that they are physically in the state house chamber listening to debate and pushing the "yea" or "nay" button. That is not always the case. Chris Glorioso reports.



Parents Demand Transparency From College Study Abroad Programs After Sons' Deaths (originally aired 9/19/14)

Two families whose sons died while studying abroad have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the universities running the programs, and they're working with a U.S. congressman on a bill to require more transparency for college study abroad programs, which they say are poorly regulated given the number of students who participate in them each year. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.



Identity Thieves Thrive on the "Dark Web" (originally aired 11/17/14)

Days after a federal crackdown shuttered hundreds of websites used by cyber criminals, the I-Team logged on to several anonymous Internet marketplaces and found hundreds of credit card and social security numbers up for sale again. Chris Glorioso reports.



Hoboken Security Cameras Have Been Inoperative for Years (originally aired 4/3/14)

Hoboken has failed to keep a network of city-owned surveillance cameras working since 2010, including at least two cameras positioned on the waterfront where a jogger went missing, the I-Team has learned. Chris Glorioso reports.



Feds Knew of Severe Repair Needs at Building Where Akai Gurley Was Shot (originally aired 12/12/14)

Lighting problems at the Pink Houses in Brooklyn made headlines after police shot an innocent, unarmed man in a dark stairwell. But long before police said Akai Gurley was accidentally killed by a rookie cop, federal regulators knew about severe repair problems at the public housing complex. Chris Glorioso reports.



Menendez, Clinton State Dept. Helped Secure Visa for Fugitive Banker's Daughter (originally aired 12/16/14)

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez interceded on behalf of an Ecuadorian woman who was banned from traveling to the U.S. because of allegations she had engaged in visa fraud. The woman, Estafania Isaias, is the daughter of a fugitive from Ecuador convicted in absentia for bank fraud and whose relatives in Florida made significant campaign donations to the New Jersey Democrat's 2012 campaign and the Democratic Party. Jonathan Dienst reports.

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<![CDATA["Layaway Angel" Helps 150 People]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:45:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Toys+R+Us.jpg

An anonymous person paid the layaway accounts of about 150 people at a Toys "R" Us store in Bellingham, Massachusetts, in an act of holiday cheer that covered $20,000 in merchandise.

Emily Burlingame told NECN that she was not expecting such a random act of kindness when she she went to pay her layaway balance.

"I just went to go pay, and [the cashier] said that the 'layaway angel' took care of the balance," she said.

The mystery woman had visited the store Wednesday, Toys "R" Us said. She asked to pay off every outstanding account.

"It's a very nice surprise," Burlingame said. "Thank you to the 'layaway angel.' Very nice."

Other shoppers at the store were overjoyed when they learned what happened.

"I know the feeling of gratefulness when you get the phone call saying, 'somebody paid off your layaway,'" said Christine Roberts, who was on the receiving end of a similar gesture last year.

"It's a really, really nice thing that was done, so a big thank you, very much," Burlingame said.

Toys "R" Us told NECN the act was an incredible display of what the season is all about.

The identity of the "layaway angel" remains a mystery.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Best Gifts for Foodies]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 11:09:42 -0500 handrail BBQ to someone itching to host a city-style barbecue. ]]> handrail BBQ to someone itching to host a city-style barbecue. ]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/balconybbq.png From a sriracha key chain to an on-the-go barware set, this gallery has the perfect gifts for all food lovers. ]]> <![CDATA[Haunted Christmas House Disturbs Some Parents]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 11:00:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/haunted+christmas+house.jpg Christmas is a special time for many families, especially those with children. It's a time of innocence, when kids can let their imaginations run wild, immersing themselves in the magical journey of Santa Claus. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.]]> <![CDATA[Holiday 2014: Gifts That Give Back]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 11:10:10 -0500 Cookies and Starbucks Coffee Gift Box for just $29.99? The gift box will include all-natural homemade individually wrapped chocolate chunk, white chocolate macadamia, double chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin cookies, with Starbucks house blend regular coffee, and fair trade café estima blend. The “That’s Caring” gift box will supply a weekend food bag, which is given to a child living in a food-insecure environment. Check out more “That’s Caring” gifts you can give to your employees, clients, and your boss here . ]]> Cookies and Starbucks Coffee Gift Box for just $29.99? The gift box will include all-natural homemade individually wrapped chocolate chunk, white chocolate macadamia, double chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin cookies, with Starbucks house blend regular coffee, and fair trade café estima blend. The “That’s Caring” gift box will supply a weekend food bag, which is given to a child living in a food-insecure environment. Check out more “That’s Caring” gifts you can give to your employees, clients, and your boss here . ]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Starbucks10.jpg A better feeling than getting presents during the holidays is the feeling of giving back. This season shop for gifts that not only will make your friends and family happy, but will also help someone in need.

Photo Credit: thatscaring.com]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Brings 3-Year-Old Girl's Dad Home From Afghanistan]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:11:07 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_santasoldiersurprise1210_700x394.jpg When a 3-year-old girl asked Santa to bring her daddy home from Afghanistan for Christmas, he delivered. Elizabeth Matthews reports.]]> <![CDATA[#SantaPhotoFail: Pics of No Good Santa Encounters]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 02:42:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/01-santafailthumb.jpg It's Christmastime and it's that time of year when you head out with the family and get those beloved pics of the kids with Santa. Except the photos don't always turn out as you hoped.]]> <![CDATA[Woman Honors Late Husband by Giving Wedding Rings to Salvation Army]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:50:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Note.jpg

An anonymous woman celebrated her late husband's memory by dropping her diamond engagement ring and wedding band into a Red Kettle outside Boston's North Station.

The donation, made on Dec. 3, was accompanied by a note saying the woman wanted to commemorate her husband's "joy in giving at Christmastime, especially to those in need" by donating the ring to help fund toys for needy children. 

"In all seasons, my husband was a giver. I especially remember his joy in giving at Christmastime, especially to those in need. To honor his memory, I donate this ring," the note read. "I'm hoping there's someone out there who made lots of money this year and will buy the ring for ten times its worth. After all, there's no price on love or the sentimental value of this ring."

An appraisal, included with the donation, values the diamond ring at $1,850.

"We're so moved and incredibly grateful to the generous individual who made such a loving and kind donation," says Major David B. Davis, divisional commander of the Massachusetts Salvation Army. "This heartwarming gift boosts all of our staff, bell-ringers, and volunteers who are working tirelessly during the Red Kettle Campaign to encourage donations that help those in need."

Salvation Army's Drew Forster says he hasn't seen anything such as this before.

"Jewelry comes into our kettles from time to time, but it's generally by accident," he said. "Someone will drop a ring or an earring that they might happen to have in their purse."

Bell ringer Robert Barr, who is working with the Salvation Army as part of his court-ordered community service, said the donor was a small woman, probably in her 50s, who stopped for just a moment to talk.

"I remember the lady because she said she has two checks available and they were in envelopes and she put them in the kettle," he said.

Those giving what they could on Monday were amazed by one woman's charitable sense of purpose.

"What a nice thing to do to honor his memory. The goal of giving and sacrificing her jewelry to his memory," donor Patty Cyr said.

For more information on the Salvation Army or to donate online, please visit: www.salvationarmyma.org.

Photo Credit: Salvation Army]]>
<![CDATA[Best Last-Minute Holiday Travel Deals]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 09:09:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_travelsavings1208_700x394.jpg It's not too late to find holiday travel deals. Kurt Gregory reports.]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Awesome Rock Tree Time-lapse]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:18:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tree+timelapse+tree.jpg See time-lapse video of the 2014 Rockefeller Center tree being put up and illuminated.]]> <![CDATA[Unique Holiday Gifts for Pets]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:56:50 -0500 Push Pushi Raincoat . ]]> Push Pushi Raincoat . ]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/220*120/pet+toys+3.jpg Dogs, cats and even fish can celebrate the holidays with unique toys and treats. ]]> <![CDATA[Boys Try to Call Santa, Dial 911 Instead]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 12:54:21 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_santa9111204_700x394.jpg Two little Wisconsin boys ended up on the naughty list when they tried to call Santa but got 911 instead. Lacey Crisp reports.]]> <![CDATA[Apps to Help You Save During the Holidays]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 10:19:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/holiday+savings+apps.jpg Tech guru PC Mike Wendland takes a look at apps designed to help you save during the holidays.]]> <![CDATA[WATCH: Rockefeller Center Tree Lights Up]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 06:26:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005464811_1200x675_366994499653.jpg The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is lit on the plaza Wednesday. Video courtesy NBC Universal Inc. ]]> <![CDATA[Rockefeller Tree Set to Sparkle]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 06:09:18 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NUP_159342_0849.JPG

Packed with celebrities, performances and seasonal cheer, the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center is one of New York City's greatest holiday traditions.

To celebrate the 2014 lighting, NBC is bringing the sparkle to viewers across the country with "Christmas in Rockefeller Center," airing live on Wednesday, December 3 (8-9 p.m. ET).

Mariah Carey will kick things off with a rendition of her number one smash hit "All I Want for Christmas is You," before hosts Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales ("Today") introduce a lineup that includes Darius Rucker, Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Prince Royce, Cyndi Lauper, Seth MacFarlane, Sara Bareilles, Idina Menzel, Pentatonix, LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood.

The 82nd annual celebration will culminate in the lighting of the 85-foot tall Norway spruce from Hemlock Township, Penn. It is approximately 90 years old and weighs approximately 13 tons.

Prior to this year's primetime telecast, an additional live hour of the special (7-8 p.m. ET) will be broadcast by select NBC stations. Check local listings.

Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht/NBC
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<![CDATA[2014 Rockefeller Tree Lighting]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 16:47:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP304775363894.jpg The star-studded Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting ceremony lit up the heart of Manhattan Wednesday as tens of thousands attended the annual event while millions tuned in from home.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Christopher Walken Hooks "Peter Pan"]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 12:19:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NUP_166283_0992.JPG

Steven Spielberg's underrated 1991 fantasy film "Hook" lifted the Peter Pan story to new heights, starting with the revisionist title. Sure, we're fascinated by flying boys who won't grow up – but seafaring villains with development issues of their own wield an even sharper lure.

That's why the inspired casting of Christopher Walken as Captain Hook in NBC's "Peter Pan Live!" Thursday (December 4 at 8 p.m. ET/PT) offers a draw well beyond the ambitious airing of a Broadway-level high-wire act without a net, from a pirate ship or otherwise. Walken arrives with the promise of chewing up the scenery with the voraciousness of the crocodile than chomped off Hook's left hand. You should never smile at a crocodile, but it’s okay to laugh at Christopher Walken.

Walken, at first glance, doesn’t scream out as a song and dance man. But as he’s shown on “Saturday Night Live,” he can carry a tune and pull off a credible soft shoe, most memorably performing “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” a couple decades back. The star of “The Deerhunter” also emerged as an unlikely TV comedian with his cries for “more cowbell.” His live stints, even in the name of humor, land with an air of, if not danger, then a portent of the odd and unexpected.

The Walken of “SNL” appears made for Neverland. Judging from his Hook get-up, the 71-year-old actor wouldn’t be out of place with Johnny Depp and Keith Richards at a Sparrow family reunion, whether in the Caribbean or on a Hollywood lot. But unlike the movies, there are no second takes when mounting a live TV musical.

That’s a challenge for the whole “Peter Pan Live!” cast, especially Allison Williams, who is setting out to prove she’s more than the one-note wannabe singer Marnie on "Girls." Her performance as the airborne title character will be measured against Mary Martin’s legendary 1960 TV turn in the role. Williams’ bigger test, though, might be standing out amid Walken and other more seasoned cast mates.

Big-stage musical neophyte Carrie Underwood found that out last year in NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live!” when working hard to hold her own against veteran Broadway talent like Christian Borle and Laura Benanti. Borle, who played proto-Hook Black Stache on stage in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” is back Thursday as Hook’s left-hand man, Smee.

Peter Pan might have top billing, but it’s Hook’s show for the grabbing – a sign of a classic that’s as only as good as its villain is bad. Check out a preview as Williams, Walken and the “Peter Pan Live!” creative team prepare to take flight.


Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multimedia NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Patrick Randak/NBC
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<![CDATA[NYPD Announces Street Closures for Rockefeller Tree Lighting]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:13:18 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/30-Rock-Christmas-Tree-2012.jpg

Several streets in midtown will be closed Wednesday afternoon as organizers prepare for the annual Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony, police say.

Police will set up barricades closing roadways between 48th and 51st streets from Fifth Avenue to Avenue of the Americas from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., the NYPD says.

Police say that because of heavy traffic, drivers should also avoid the areas around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.

Pedestrians and spectators are urged to use mass transit to get to Rockefeller Center for the tree lighting festivities.

Police say that large backpacks and bags are prohibited from the event, which attracts tens of thousands of people every year.

The festivities begin at 7 p.m. and will air on NBC 4 New York.

Photo Credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
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<![CDATA[NORAD Santa Tracker Launches Ahead of Christmas ]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:42:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sb10069274b-004.jpg

Once you've made your Christmas list and checked it twice, you can log online to track Santa Claus as he delivers millions of gifts around the world.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, launched its official Santa tracker website and mobile app Monday.

The latest version of the NORAD Tracks Santa effort, which has been around since 1958, features new games and daily activities, including the opportunity to help name a new elf in the North Pole Village. The #NoradElf challenge was announced in a new video posted to the site.

Santa and his sleigh will have a hard time staying under the radar thanks to the site, which is accessible in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Visitors can watch Mr. Claus prepare for his flight around the world on the day before Christmas, starting at 12:01 a.m MST on Dec. 24. 

Starting at 4 a.m MST that day, trackers can speak with a live phone operator to find out Santa's current location, by dialing 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by emailing noradtrackssanta@outlook.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Giant Gingerbread House Fits People]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 07:31:21 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/giant+gingerbread+house.jpg

Vermont's Woodstock Inn & Resort has unveiled a giant gingerbread house that towers above the rest. The creation of pastry chef Lerome Campbell and his team stands 9 feet tall from its base to rooftop. It's 7 feet long, and has ceilings high enough for most people to carefully stand up beneath.

"We have about 180 pounds of flour in there," Campbell told New England Cable News. "Confectioners sugar? I'm going to say about 150 pounds."

The gingerbread house was about three weeks in the making, Campbell said. It's mostly edible, but is built over a wooden frame. Campbell explained there is so much gingerbread — more than 350 shingles on the roof and 700 bricks on the walls — that it would need a sturdy wooden frame to bear the weight of the gingerbread, icing, and candy.

Campbell said he has worked on even larger gingerbread houses before. At a previous job at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida, Campbell said he once helped construct a taller house than the one in Woodstock. "I always shoot for the 'wow effect' in people," Campbell told NECN.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Robin McCluskey, a traveler visiting Woodstock from the Boston area. "It's just wonderful."

"There's no detail spared," added McCluskey's friend, Kate Brown, who was marveling at the giant gingerbread house's windows, trim, and flowerboxes, which are filled with lollipop blooms and shredded wheat soil. "It's just amazing!"

This mansion of the gingerbread house world will be up at the Woodstock Inn & Resort until the start of 2015. Campbell said the wooden frame will be saved for use in future years, as a base over which fresh candy decorations and gingerbread tiles can be applied.

The Woodstock Inn & Resort has a series of Christmas events and outdoor winter activities, like dog sledding, planned for the next several weeks. For more, visit the destination's website.

For additional information on planning a visit to Vermont during the winter, visit the website of the state's Department of Tourism and Marketing and Ski Vermont.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[What to Give the Holiday Party Host]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:56:18 -0500 Infused olive oils are an easy do it yourself host gift idea. All you need is some good olive oil, rosemary sprigs, hot pepper flakes and a few empty bottles. ]]> Infused olive oils are an easy do it yourself host gift idea. All you need is some good olive oil, rosemary sprigs, hot pepper flakes and a few empty bottles. ]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/1de89438a2c15ccc8a007347b3caaeac.jpg Whether you're staying over at a friend's house, attending a co-worker's party, or spending the holidays with your in-laws, a chic gift will show your appreciation for their hospitality. ]]> <![CDATA[15 Hot Holiday Toys]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 10:42:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Gift-Triptych_edited-1.jpg

Reptiles, princesses and interactive robots are among the most talked about toys this holiday season. Check out the items kids are likely dreaming about as they draw up their wish lists.

Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Doll

Disney’s hit 2013 movie “Frozen” has inspired perhaps the most popular toy of the season, the Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa Doll. “Frozen” is the highest-grossing animated film of all time, so it’s no wonder that the Elsa doll has sold out at many online retailers. Raise Elsa’s arms and she’ll sing the hit song “Let It Go.” Touch her snowflake necklace and it will light up as Elsa says 15 phrases from the film. Elsa can even speak and sing in English and Spanish.

Transformers Age of Extinction Chomp and Stomp Grimlock Figure

Another massively popular film franchise gave rise to the Transformers Age of Extinction Chomp and Stomp Grimlock Figure. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is the highest grossing film of 2014 worldwide. Kids are sure to dig this toy version of the Dinobots leader, which is the largest Dinobot toy ever created. The part-robot, part-dinosaur can transform in an instant and features battle sounds, pop-out weapons and light-up eyes.

Zoomer Dino

But Grimlock isn’t the only prehistoric reptilian roaring into the holiday season. Zoomer Dino does more than transform — he spins, dances, roars, and even burps and farts. But don’t let his temperament fool you. Dino won the 2014 Toy of the Year Award in the Innovative Toy of the Year category and uses True Balance technology to explore his owner’s house on two feet.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stretch N Shout

Speaking of reptiles, kids will love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stretch N Shout dolls, which are available as turtles Raphael and Leonardo. Coming on the heels of this year’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” film, these flexible fighters let out battle cries and recreate sounds from the movie when their arms are stretched.

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Attack

And that’s not the only Ninja Turtles toy worth checking out this holiday season. The LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Lair Attack set features everything a fan of Leonardo, Raphael and the gang will need. Train and battle in all three stories of the Turtles’ lair with tons of weapons, gear, and of course, pizza.

My Little Pony Equestria Girls Collection

Another gang worth checking out this holiday season is the My Little Pony Equestria Girls Collection dolls. You can find Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy and the rest of the My Little Pony characters in this collection. They’ve all traveled through a magic mirror and have transformed into little girls. Collect them all and relive all the fun moments from the hit television series.

My Friend Cayla Doll

Another girl is tearing up the U.K. and is sure to be a hit over here in the United States too. The My Friend Cayla Doll is much more than a doll, she’s a friend that can chat about her favorite hobbies, tell stories, share recipes, play games and answer all sorts of fun questions. Simply download the free app for Android and iOS and connect Cayla to the Internet via Bluetooth. She uses speech-to-text technology to look up answers to all your kids’ questions.

MiP 2 Personal Robot

The MiP 2 Personal Robot is another interactive pal that could become your child's best robotic friend. MiP has 7 built-in play modes, but the fun is endless when you download this lively robot’s app for iOS and Android. It’ll play maze games, dance to songs and interact with its environment at the push of a button — all on two wheels!

Little Live Pets Bird Cage’s Friendly Frank

In a similar vein, the Little Live Pets Bird Cage’s Friendly Frank will interact with your kids just like a real parrot pal. If they talk with Frank and press the button on his chest, he’ll repeat what they say. And if he’s really happy, he’ll chirp or sing a little song. He’s always ready to explore the world, whether he’s traveling on a finger or in his portable cage.

Razor Crazy Cart

And if adventure is what your kids are after, the Razor Crazy Cart is the answer. This go-kart doesn’t just go forward, it goes backwards, sideways, diagonally and any direction in-between, all at speeds up to 12 mph. If that isn’t enough, riders can go into Crazy Cart mode and spin in rapid, 360 degree turns. It may be the most extreme toy of the holiday season.

Hot Wheels Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car

If the ground isn’t enough, then take to the sky with the Hot Wheels Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car. Although this car is made to tear up the streets, it performs best when it’s flying at heights of over 200 feet. It uses dual propellers spinning at over 35,000 RPMS to achieve this feat. Friends can team up with their Street Hawks and see who dominates the land and air.

Nerf N-Strike Elite Demolisher 2-in-1 Blaster

Kids can also face off with the Nerf N-Strike Elite Demolisher 2-in-1 Blaster. This Nerf gun on steroids fires darts, missiles or both at distances up to 90 feet away. A 10-dart clip ensures that the Blaster’s owner never runs out of ammunition. Anyone with inferior firepower is headed for defeat on the battlefield.

Disney Jr. Doc McStuffins Get Better Talking Mobile Cart

Future physicians can come to the rescue with the Disney Jr. Doc McStuffins Get Better Talking Mobile Cart. This mobile clinic has motion-activated sirens that light up and play the “Doc Mobile” song when little doctors are on call. Boo-boos are history when this cart rolls by with its EKG, otoscope, thermometer, bandage sticker dispenser, CB radio, gurney and more.

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch

Photographers-to-be should check out the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch. This touch screen watch has a camera enhanced with photo effects, video recorder, voice recorder, learning games, and all the watch staples like a timer and alarm clock. It’s the most fun way to teach your kids time. It’s also splash proof and features 50 clock face designs.

LeapFrog LeapTV Educational Active Video Game System

The LeapFrog LeapTV Educational Active Video Game System is another great educational toy that combines fun and learning. This console teaches reading, math, science and problem solving, and gets kids moving while they learn. Over 100 educator-approved games use body motion, pointer play and classic control to create an interactive and fun experience.

<![CDATA[Perfect Pop Culture Gifts]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:51:49 -0500 mug set, featuring song titles from Beyonce's latest album, “Flawless” and “I Woke Up Like This.” Price: $25.00]]> mug set, featuring song titles from Beyonce's latest album, “Flawless” and “I Woke Up Like This.” Price: $25.00]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BeyonceMugs.jpg This holiday season, give your friends and family gifts inspired by 2014 hottest movies, TV shows and artists.

Photo Credit: Etsy.com]]>
<![CDATA[Coolest Toys for Kids 2014]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:43:43 -0500 Zoomer costs $79.99 and is for ages 5 to 7 years.]]> Zoomer costs $79.99 and is for ages 5 to 7 years.]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Toy+5.png Here are the hottest toys of the 2014 season.]]> <![CDATA[5 Things to Know About Giving Tuesday]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 07:30:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/482444033.jpg

A new movement meant to promote charity after Black Friday and Cyber Monday has grown with help from social media.

“Giving Tuesday” has received support from charities and corporations alike. Only in its third year, it has also picked up steam with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Here are things to know about Giving Tuesday:

How It Started

Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by 92nd Street Y, a cultural institution in New York. Although it isn’t clear how much money the holiday raised in its first year, it did gain high profile followers. Charity organizations like the United Nations Foundation, GlobalGiving, and Crowdrise, as well as companies like Microsoft, Sony and the Case Foundation, also joined the cause during that year.

What It’s About

The point of Giving Tuesday is to celebrate charity, but it isn’t necessarily about money. Rather, it is a movement to encourage people all around the world to think of ways they can show generosity. As the video above explains, this could mean giving a tweet, giving your time, or even giving everyone at the office something to smile about.

Who Is Taking Part

Many organizations are offering people ways to get engaged in Giving Tuesday:

  • The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries will match donations made to one of its programs that assists in missions.
  • Microsoft is matching donations made through YouthSpark on GlobalGiving, a site that supports education and employment for young adults.
  • Walmart Foundation will donate $1.5 million in grants to food pantries which will help buy new equipment and pay for renovations. The company is also holding a campaign to get the public to join in on the support.
  • PayPal is offering to match 1% of all gifts made in December though their Giving Fund, beginning December 2 and ending at the end of the month.
  • The Salvation Army is supporting the holiday by incorporating it into its #RedKettleReason campaign to support the movement's social media presence.

You can see other organizations taking part in the holiday here.

How to Get Involved

One easy way to get involved is to promote selflessness with a hashtag that will both appear on the holiday’s site as well as throughout social media. Simply take a photo, tag it with #Unselfie and #GivingTuesday, and upload it to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook on Dec. 4 to support the campaign. You can also contribute to campaigns listed above.

Want to do more? You can also become a partner or a social media ambassador on the holiday's website.

I Don’t Know, Is There An App?

Fundraising platform website Crowdrise created an app showing a virtual representation of charity. Each time someone donates, a block is placed on a visual tower that includes a photo of the donor and details the recipient, as shown in the video above.

“People can watch donations grow like a thermometer for measuring donations,” Crowdrise co-founder Robert Wolfe said to NBC about the app, which is available to download in the Google Play Store and iTunes. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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<![CDATA["It's a Tradition": Shoppers Hunt for Black Friday Deals ]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 16:02:49 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP543391047193.jpg

Anders Kullman and his girlfriend flew in to New York City from Stockholm to shop at Macy’s on Black Friday for the tenth year in a row, and by 3 a.m. he was inside the Herald Square store buying clothes.

“It started off with the bargains, but now it’s just for fun,” said the 47-year-old, who works for Hewlett-Packard. “We are not saving any money, coming over here shopping.”

He was among the tourists joining in on the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, which with more stores opening on Thanksgiving Day is now firmly a two-day event.

And that’s exactly how three medical professionals — Naveet Panesar, 25, and 24-year-old Dalisha Bharti, medical residents who live in Queens, and Simar Kaur, a 26-year-old dental student — planned their shopping spree. They started at 10 p.m. Thursday and were still at it Friday morning.

“Shopping, taking rest in between, eating and eating and then going back again and shopping,” Panesar said.

All three women bought coats as well as jeans and jewelry.

“A little bit of everything which completes the entire list,” Kaur said. “One of this, one of this, one of this.”

The Adobe Systems Inc.’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping Forecast found that some of the season’s best deals would be online on Thanksgiving Day, but such predictions didn’t deter shoppers determined to be the first in the stores.

Raquila Wilkinson, 34, arrived at a Target in New York at 2 a.m. — more than 15 hours before its 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day opening.

"It's a tradition," Wilkinson said of shopping on the holiday weekend. "I look forward to it."

There were 500 people in line by the time the Target's doors opened; another 200 people rushed into a Toys "R" Us in Times Square when it opened at 5 p.m.

The scene was similar at the Dolphin Mall in Miami, Florida, were up to 800 people were waiting outside Thanksgiving evening.

“Shoes, shoes, and shoes,” said Andrea Brillante of the items she was looking to buy on sale.

And Edward Alvarez’s holiday shopping strategy was to get it all done.

“You make it simple to do it all in one day,” he said.

A survey by Nerd Wallet, the personal finance website, raised questions about some of the Black Friday bargains. It found that many of the same deals are offered year to year, which might not matter for luggage or Christmas trees but could mean less than good buys for year-old electronics or appliances, the web sites notes.

Doubts aside, 61 percent of Americans or more than 140 million shoppers said they would be in the stores or online over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. Holiday sales are expected to grow 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, according to the federation.

Record online sales of $1.35 billion were expected on Thanksgiving Day, an increase of 27 percent over last year, according to the Adobe System's forecast. Black Friday meanwhile could be the fastest growing online sales day at $2.48 billion, a rise of 15 percent.

Demand forced Best Buy to shut down its website Friday morning for an extended period. Would-be shoppers found this message posted on the site: "We're Sorry, BestBuy.com is currently unavailable. Check back soon."

Best Buy blamed the outage on a spike in mobile traffic.

This is a key time for retailers, which make about 20 percent of their annual sales during the season.

The sales are meant to snap consumers out of any tendency to put off shopping until the last minute, said Priya Raghubir, the chair of the marketing department at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business in New York City.

“They give you a reason to get out in the cold and start spending money,” she said.

“Consumers love getting a deal or at least feeling they’ve got a deal, feeling smart, feeling that they are in control,” she said.

At a Target store in Salem, New Hampshire, Fred Trecartin of Dracut, Massachusetts, waited for more than an hour on Thanksgiving Day.

"I had to get the three TVs, 40 inches for $119," he said. "It’s insane.”

Asked if it was worth it, he said, "Uh, yeah but my wife’s still in there....I might have to send the cavalry out soon.”

With the most ardent shoppers jamming store aisles Thursday night, Friday morning was quieter in many places than in past years. Some 25.6 million of the weekend's consumers were expected to be shopping on Thanksgiving Day; additionally 95.5 million said they would be looking for bargains on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation.

At the Westfarms shopping center in West Hartford, Connecticut on Friday, Marissa Stafford of Simsbury said she had saved up to $400 so far.

"It's all organzied," she said. "We have our coupons, our lists, so you've learned over the years you have to be prepared. Yes, we've been doing this tradition for 10 years now."

Best Buy was among the retail chains that were open by 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Other included Toys R Us and J.C. Penney. Target, Sears, Kohl's and Macy's opened at 6 p.m. and Kmart was keeping its doors open for 42 hours straight. Radio Shack opened at 8 a.m., however, after workers complained about the early hour, the electronics retailer decided to close between noon and 5 p.m.

J.C. Penney spokesman Joey Thomas said that when chain opened on Thanksgiving for the first time last year, the response from customers was overwhelmingly positive. Giveaways and other activities are planned to show staff members that their work is appreciated, Thomas said.

“Additionally, local store leaders recognize the importance of work-life balance when staffing regular and seasonal associates, and give priority to those who volunteer for holiday shifts,” Thomas said. “Hourly associates will receive time and a half for hours worked on Thanksgiving Day.”

Macy’s noted that there were 15,000 people in line for its Herald Square store in Manhattan last year at 8 p.m., a record. The large majority of shifts were filled voluntarily, according to Holly Thomas, a spokeswoman for the stores.

In contrast, Nordstrom remained closed on Thanksgiving.

“Over the years, our tradition has been to be closed on Thanksgiving so we are able to unveil our holiday trim the following morning,” said spokesman Dan Evans Jr.

Dismay over the early shopping led 32-year-old Brian Rich of Boise, Idaho, a marketing coordinator at a credit union, to start a Facebook page called “Boycott Black Thursday.”

“The best way to stop this is for everyone to stop shopping on Thanksgiving,” he said.

Twenty-five-year-old Danielle Mesisca quit her job at Kohl’s in New York City rather than work on Thanksgiving. The single mother, who has a day job working for New York City, said she would not object if Black Friday started at midnight or later.

“I feel like working a minimum wage job on a holiday is not worth it,” she said. “Thanksgiving is that one day your entire family gets together to spend time together. I shouldn't have to be forced to work and miss time with my family so other people can shop.”

Kohl’s did not immediately respond for comment.

With sales beginning earlier, and uncertainty about when the best deals are to be found, Black Friday does offer one guarantee: long lines of other shoppers, Raghubir said.

“But yes there will certainly be the buzz also,” she said. “You’ll be with all these other shoppers who are also very excited at having got a deal.”

That excitement is one reason 28-year-old Sy Paulson, a general manager at a Best Buy store in New York City said he did not mind working over the holiday. He typically has his meal the weekend before or a few days afterward and works both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

“This is my tenth Black Friday at Best Buy,” he said. “I get a lot of retail adrenaline. It’s a fun time. It kicks off the holiday season.”

In New York City, the Griffin family from West Union, Ohio, was heading into Macy’s around 6:30 a.m. and 9-year-old Emma was looking for just one thing: Santa.

The family had visited three years ago, when Emma just saw him through a window, her mother, 44-year-old Angie Griffin, said.

“She didn’t actually go in and sit on his lap,” Angie Griffin said. “Today she is.”

Photo Credit: AP Images for Sears]]>
<![CDATA[Black Friday 2014 Details]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 09:36:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Macy%27s_Holiday35345.jpg

Get that turkey and stuffing to go, because Black Friday doorbusters are no longer confined to Black Friday. Retailers like Target and Best Buy are starting their Thanksgiving sales even earlier than they did last year—and in many cases, those sales will keep going for days afterward. Here’s how the biggest stores are trying to lure customers away from Thanksgiving dinner and into the checkout line:

Walmart: After years of ever-earlier sales on Thanksgiving Day, the world’s largest retailer has transformed Black Friday into a five-day event. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Wednesday that sales will begin at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Walmart will roll out sales in stores and online on different categories of merchandise like home goods, toys, and electronics. “This year, we're blowing it out with five days of deals in store and online,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, the company’s chief merchandising officer.

Target: Target is launching its “biggest, most digital Black Friday ever” at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, with a range of deals over the weeks leading up to Black Friday. Target, which opened its doors last year at 8 p.m., is also offering free shipping up to Dec. 20. The biggest steal? Target is selling the Samsung Galaxy S5, regularly $200, for one whopping cent each (with a two-year contract).

Best Buy: In an attempt to one-up its retail competitors, Best Buy will kick off its sales at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than the store opened last year. (Best Buy is even handing out tickets up to two hours before the doors open.) As to be expected for an electronics giant, Best Buy’s flagship deal is a 50-inch Panasonic TV for $199.99.

Macy’s: Macy's will kick off its Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving afternoon, two hours earlier than its opening time last year. The department store's big deals, which last until Nov. 30, are focused on clothes, shoes, jewelry and homewares.

The Holdouts: Many retailers are bucking the Black-Friday-on-Thanksgiving trend. Costco, for one, is giving shoppers a chance to digest their Thanksgiving dinner, saying that its employees “deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families." Nordstrom, Dillard's, Barnes & Noble and GameStop are also closed on Thanksgiving, but are planning Black Friday sales.

Photo Credit: AP Images for Macy�s Inc.]]>
<![CDATA[Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Tonight]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 12:08:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/228*120/capitol_christmas_tree.png

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner will light the Capitol Christmas Tree on the Capitol's West Front Lawn at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday.

This year's tree, a massive White Spruce, came from Minnesota's Chippewa National Forest and will be decorated with thousands of ornaments made by residents of Minnesota children.

After Tuesday's lighting, the Capitol Christmas Tree will be lit from dusk until 11 p.m. every day through Jan. 1.

<![CDATA[Christmas Tree Arrives at WH]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:45:34 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/182*120/459682616.jpg

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the White House now that the official tree has arrived.

A horse-drawn wagon hauled the 20-foot white fir up the driveway to the North Portico for inspection on Friday morning. Receiving the tree were first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha and family dogs Bo and Sunny.

The family circled the tree, smelled it and conferred before the first lady said, "Thumbs-up. It's a go. We're taking the tree."

Malia, holding Bo's leash, said of the tree: "It's great. It's big."

It's tradition for the first lady to preside over the tree delivery on the morning after Thanksgiving. The odds are slim to none that it would ever be rejected.

The tree is chosen weeks in advance at the farm that wins the National Christmas Tree Association contest. The winner has presented the official White House tree since 1966.

In late September, a group of White House staffers including the chief usher, groundskeeper and chief horticulturist traveled to the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, to search for a tree they agreed is perfect enough to stand in the Blue Room, albeit tethered to its ceiling, as the main attraction throughout the White House holiday season. The Blue Room tree cannot be taller than 18 ½ feet, so this tree will be trimmed to fit.

The farm, run by Christ Botek, a second-generation Christmas tree farmer, also provided the official White House tree in 2010 and 2006.

The delivery marked the start of an intense few days of round-the-clock tree trimming, wreath laying and other decorating by an army of volunteer decorators who help turn the White House into a winter wonderland. Many of the decorations honor military families, a group that Mrs. Obama is trying to support through a nationwide initiative.

She has invited military families to the White House for a first look at the decorations on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jimmy Fallon & Rashida Jones Sing Holiday Parodies]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:32:25 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Fallon+Rashida+Jones.jpg Jimmy Fallon and Rashida Jones sing a medley of holiday-themed parodies including Ariana Grande, Sam Smith, and Nicki Minaj.

Photo Credit: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank]]>
<![CDATA[Ferguson Protesters Take Aim at Black Friday Shopping]]> Sat, 29 Nov 2014 08:27:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/459683116.jpg

Protesters taking aim at Black Friday continued to rally into the night across the country in the wake of a grand jury's decision to not indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

In the St. Louis area, county police arrested 15 protesters early Saturday, with one demonstrator charged with assault on a police officer, according to the police department's Twitter account.

A mall in St. Louis was closed briefly as dozens of protesters moved store to store staging "die-ins," where they lie down on the floor like corpses, according to NBC affiliate KSDK. Thursday night also brought "stand up, don't shop" rallies at big box stores across St. Louis County.

Demonstrations in San Francisco's Union Square turned violent Friday evening, with hundreds of protesters marching on Market Street. One police officer was hospitalized with cuts to the face after a protester threw a bottle at a police car, police said. Another officer was struck by a brick in the chest, according to police.

In New York, more than 150 people rallied outside Macy's in Herald Square on Black Friday, eventually making their way to Times Square. At least two people were arrested for blocking the sidewalk. A protester told NBC New York that the point of the demonstrations was to diminish Black Friday profits to make the government notice.

Los Angeles police said they arrested eight protesters Friday night. Police began detaining people who were running into traffic despite orders to stay on the sidewalk. A group of 50 to 100 protesters marched in the Westlake District where police blocked the intersection near the 101 Freeway as crowds chanted "Let us go."

In West Oakland, California, about 20 protesters chained themselves to each other and a train and shut down the Bay Area Rapid Transit or BART. One participant told said the group planned to stay on the tracks for four hours to symbolize the amount of time Brown's body was in the street after he was killed.

About 100 people in Chicago said they said they would remain outside the stores on Friday but would urge people not to shop.

Meanwhile at the Wal-Mart store in Washington, D.C., Ferguson protesters joined a few hundred living wage activists at a rally. The gathering was peaceful and included a four-a-half-minute moment of silence to remember Brown. The Black Friday living wage protest was organized by unions as one of several against the company.

Although there were a handful of signs reading, "Black Lives Matter," the majority of protesters focused their message on wages and hours. Activists say that D.C. Walmart employees do not earn enough to support their families in an increasingly expensive city and want to see wages increased to $15 an hour.

A similar protest took place outside a Wal-Mart in North Bergen, New Jersey. The union-backed group Our Walmart says demonstrations were planned at 1,600 Wal-Mart stores around the country.

An entirely different sort of protest took place on in Beverly Hills as animal rights activists targetted Rodeo Drive over fur sales.

Inside stores, as Black Friday kicked off earlier than ever this year, steps were taken to keep crowds under control. But in some places, Black Friday turned violent.

Kimberly States, who was shopping with her 11-year-old daughter at the Westfield Fox Valley mall in Aurora, Illinois, told The Associated Press it was markedly more quiet around 6:30 a.m. Friday than it was the night before, when she made her first trip to the mall to pick up some holiday deals.

"It was a zoo last night around 10 p.m.," States said. "Now it seems like more of the old folks."

Some fights did break out -- at a Kohl's in Tustin, California, near Los Angeles, for example, where two women attacked two other women in the baby department. One of those attacked was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons; her condition was not known.

Tustin police said two arrests had been made.

An argument with shoving was also reported at a Walmart in Norwalk, California. Police officers responded but no arrests were made, and it was unclear what the dispute was about.

In New York, a 4-year-old boy and his 11-year-old handicapped sister were left alone in a hotel while their parents were at an outlet mall on Black Friday, police said. The father has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

And in Chicago, Black Friday turned violent at a Nordstrom's department store, where one man was killed and a woman injured in a double shooting.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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