Thousands of Holiday Lights Flick on as Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Is Lit

With a short countdown, the 78-foot Rockefeller Center Christmas tree burst into light Wednesday evening after a massive party, despite rain and security restrictions that included a ban on umbrellas.

The pre-show went on, including a live performance by Sting, before the 10-ton Norway Spruce Christmas tree came to life with 45,000 LED lights.

The NBC telecast of "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" began at 8 p.m. with the actual lighting just before 9 p.m.

The 83rd annual holiday extravaganza starred the tree from the Ulster County town of Gardiner. It is approximately 80 years old and will be adorned with 30,000 twinkling holiday lights.

The tree is illuminated by 45,000 multi-colored LED lights on 5 miles of wire. It's the 12th year a Swarovski star has topped the tree.

"Today" anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Rocker and Natalie Morales hosted the broadcast, with performances from Sting, Mary J. Blige, Andrea Bocelli, The Band Perry, Andy Grammer, Carly Rae Jepsen, Pentatonix, Band of Merrymakers, and James Taylor, featuring world-renowned trumpeter Chris Botti. The evening will also include a special performance by the Rockettes.

The tree will be lit every day from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. until Jan. 7., except for Christmas, when it will be lit for 24 hours and New Year's Eve, when it will be lit until 9 p.m.

After it goes down, the tree will be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

Streets surrounding Rockefeller Plaza were closed and hundreds of thousands of spectators were kept behind police barricades.

However, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said no credible threat has been reported.

"It's there really to make people feel more secure. We're asking them to be aware but to enjoy and feel safe. We'll worry about security, they should just enjoy themselves," he told NBC 4 New York.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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