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 tree will be lit every day from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. until Jan. 7, except for Christmas Day, when it will stay lit for 24 hours.
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.
Angie Eichler said their family has come almost every year to see the Rockefeller Center tree - but she never dreamed it would be theirs.
The spruce is between 90 and 95 years old; approximately 50,000 lights on 5 miles of wire adorn the tree, and the Swarovski Star that sits atop the tree features energy-efficient LED bulbs.
After the holidays, it will be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.
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, Conn.
• 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.