The towering 85-foot Norway spruce donated by a central Pennsylvania family of "Christmas elves" to serve as the 2014 edition of Rockefeller Center's fabled tree made its Big Apple debut Friday morning.
The 13-ton tree arrived in Rockefeller Center after a 155-mile journey from Danville, Pennsylvania.
It will be decorated with more than 45,000 LED lights and a 9½-foot-wide Swarovski star in preparation for the annual "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" illumination ceremony Dec. 3.
The annual tree-lighting event at Rockefeller Center attracts tens of thousands of people and is watched by millions more on television. The ceremony has been held since 1933.
The tree was donated by Dan Sigafoos, 38, and Rachel Drosdick-Sigafoos, 29, who live in a century-old farmhouse about three hours west of New York City. They begin their holiday season early by starting to play Christmas music in August or September.
"I am a big Christmas elf. My whole family are Christmas elves," said Drosdick-Sigafoos, a diving coach at Susquehanna University who also works part-time at a hospital. "So for me, this is just literally beyond my wildest dreams."
Erik Pauze, the head gardener at Rockefeller Center, was driving on Interstate 80 several years ago when he spied the tree from the highway.
"I said, "'Whoa! Check that out,'" Pauze recalled.
He got off the highway and took pictures. But the tree wasn't quite ready, and the owner of the home didn't want to part with it.
When the Sigafooses purchased the farmhouse two years ago, the former owner's real estate agent mentioned that Rockefeller Center had been interested in the massive 90-year-old spruce next to the barn.
After the tree is taken down in early January, it will return to Pennsylvania and its wood will be used to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, Drosdick-Sigafoos said.