Happening Today: 30 Rock Tree, Trump Tour, Wildfires, Protests, Kanye West

What to Know

  • The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was lit up on Wednesday night, kicking off the holiday season in midtown Manhattan
  • President-elect Donald Trump will head to Indiana and Ohio on Thursday as part of a Midwest victory tour
  • Wildfires and deadly storms have killed at least a dozen people in the South this week

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30 Rock Tree Lights up the Season

Thousands of rain-drenched revelers gathered in midtown Manhattan Wednesday night to watch the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Mayor Bill de Blasio and actors Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon helped flip the switch to illuminate the 94-foot tall, 14-ton Norway spruce with 50,000 multicolored lights. The holiday tradition started in 1931. This year's tree came from the backyard of Angie and Graig Eichler in Oneonta in the northern foothills of New York's Catskill mountain range. Check out more Rockefeller Center Christmas trees from years past.

“This is #BayRidge, not #TimesSquare”

Meanwhile in Brooklyn, drivers in one neighborhood are turning redder than Rudolph's nose over a month of daily parking restrictions so buses can take sightseers on a tour of the area's extravagant holiday displays. Bright pink signs were recently posted on 86th Street in Dyker Heights between 10th and 14th avenues barring parking from 3 p.m. to midnight until Jan. 3. "It's nice (for people to come see the lights) but all the residents here are flipping out," said John Dileo, one driver who had to move his car on Wednesday.

Trump’s Midwest Victory Tour

President-elect Donald Trump is poised to take a victory lap on Thursday, appearing first in Indiana to salute workers at a factory that he made a campaign promise to save and then in Ohio on the first stop of a "Thank You Tour" to honor the supporters in states that gave him his stunning victory. The Midwest swing will be the first time Trump, who has shown an early inclination to revel in the role of showman-in-chief, has barnstormed across the country since the campaign. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin has been in touch with Trump transition officials about a role with the incoming administration, according to sources close to the former Alaska governor. While there is no confirmation what specific position she might be interested in, her son-in-law has dropped a hint.

Deadly Wildfires, Tornadoes in South

After nearly 24 hours of drenching rain helped quench a series of devastating wildfires in eastern Tennessee, local officials turned to cleanup and recovery efforts even as they battled their own personal crises. Three more bodies were found in the ruins of wildfires that torched hundreds of homes and businesses in the Great Smoky Mountains area, raising the death toll to seven. More than 14,000 people were evacuated from Gatlinburg on Monday night, and many of them are still nervously awaiting word of when they can get back in the city to see if they still have homes. Meanwhile, severe storms killed five people as tornadoes touched down in Alabama and Tennessee.

Protests in North Carolina

Protesters marched through the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, Wednesday night, angered by the news that the officer who fatally shot a black man will not face charges. Prosecutors announced Wednesday that they would not charge officer Brentley Vinson in the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in September. Warnings of powerful thunderstorms in the area did not deter protesters, who gathered outside of the city's police headquarters. Flanked by officers on bicycle patrol, nearly a hundred people marched through the streets of Uptown Charlotte chanting "No Justice, No Peace!" and "Tell the truth and stop the lies, Keith Scott didn't have to die."

Kanye Released From Hospital

Rapper Kanye West has been released from the hospital following a more than week-long stay, E! News confirmed. He was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital Nov. 21 for exhaustion. The admission followed a week of bizarre incidents during which the provocative rapper publicly railed against fellow music stars Beyoncé and Jay Z and retroactively endorsed President-elect Donald Trump.

Beaver Spotted Holiday Shopping

A beaver was spotted going through pre-lit Christmas trees and other holiday items at a dollar store in Maryland. Police were called after the little critter damaged some of the merchandise. In other unusual animal news, a six-month-old goat from New Jersey is only able to deal with its anxiety when it puts on a fluffy duck onesie. Polly the goat, who is partially blind and has other neurological issues, has several other costumes, like a unicorn onesie and a peapod onesie. And in Pennsylvania, a Penn State college senior dubbed the “Squirrel Whisperer” is still dressing up the critters four years after she became an internet sensation.

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