It's showtime for a small town tree soon to make its home at Rockefeller Center for the 2020 holiday season.
This year's tree, a 75-foot-tall, 11-ton Norway Spruce will be cut down Thursday from a residence in the town of Oneonta and carted to New York City for what is sure to be an unusual winter. Donated by Daddy Al's General Store, it will arrive in Manhattan by flatbed Saturday to be prepped for its illuminating global debut.
There will be no public access to the tree arrival at Rock Center this year amid the pandemic, but details about how to visit it will be announced in the coming days. It was not clear how the city plans to control crowd sizes as well.
Another annual favorite at the same location will be returning as well. The Rockefeller Center ice skating rink will open on Nov. 21, and will limit the number of people on the ice. The rink will also close far earlier in the season compared to other years, with Jan. 17 as its last day.
It's estimated that more than 125 million people visit Rockefeller Center during the holiday season. But with tourism stalled amid the coronavirus pandemic, it's unlikely the usual holiday frenzy will appear this year.
Typical holiday staples, like Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, featuring the high-kicking Rockettes, have been canceled while Bryant Park's Winter Village implemented new safety protocols to open last month. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will also have a whole new look to it, as crowds won't be able to view it in person but there will be a modified version to see on TV the morning of Nov. 26.
Here are some historical facts about the Rockefeller Center Tree:
- 1931 – Construction workers building Rockefeller Center put up a Christmas tree, the first-ever Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
- 1933 - First formal Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony. The tree was decked with 700 lights in front of the eight-month-old RCA Building.
- 1936 - Two trees, each 70 feet (21.3 m) tall, were erected. For the first time the Lighting Ceremony included a skating pageant on the newly opened Rockefeller Plaza Outdoor Ice Skating Pond.
- 1942 - Three trees were placed on Rockefeller Plaza, one decorated in red, one in white and one in blue to show support for our troops serving during World War II.
- 1949 - The tree was painted silver, to look like snow.
- 1951 - The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was lit for the first time on national television on the Kate Smith Show.
- 1966 - The first tree from outside the United States was erected. It was given by Canada, in honor of the Centennial of its Confederation. This is the farthest distance a tree has traveled to Rockefeller Center.
- 1980 - For the 50th Anniversary of Tree Lighting, a 70 foot-tall (21.3 m) Norway Spruce came from the grounds of the Immaculate Conception Seminary of Mahwah, N.J. Bob Hope participated in the Lighting.
- 1999 – The largest tree in Rockefeller Center history, 100 feet tall (30.5 m), came from Killingworth, Conneticut.
- 2004 – The Swarovski-designed star became the largest star to ever grace the tree.
- 2007 – For the first time, the tree was lit with energy-efficient LEDs. They draw a fraction of the power that had been traditionally required by the tree, reducing energy consumption from 3,510 kwH to 1,297 kwH per day, saving as much energy as a single family would use in a month in a 2,000 square foot (185.8 m²) home. Hundreds of solar panels atop one of the Rockefeller Center buildings help power the new LEDs.