Ceremony - December 2, 2015, 7-9pm (lit until January 6, 2016)
The photo above is of the first Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center in 1931. The 20 foot tree looks a bit tiny to today's standards, but I am sure in that time period, it was fantastic! I thought some of these interesting facts about the most famous Christmas Tree in the USA would be fun to point out. What a wonderful history for us all to celebrate each holiday season!
In 1944, during World War II, the Rockefeller Center trees were not lighted because of blackout rules designed to ensure that the silhouette of American ships could not be seen against Gotham’s glow.
In 1951, NBC televised its first tree lighting on The Kate Smith Show, hosted by the "first lady of radio" herself, above. From 1953 to 1955, children across America watched the ceremony on Howdy Doody.
Spurred by the growing environmental movement, Rockefeller Center recycled its first Christmas tree in 1971, turning it into 30 three-bushel bags of mulch for the nature trails of upper Manhattan. Other organizations to later benefit from the leftover lumber include the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts and, most recently, Habitat for Humanity, which in 2005 used the wood to make doorframes for homes in New York, Louisiana, India and Brazil.
The tree's decorations have come a long way since 1931, when tin cans and scrap paper replaced garlands and glass. In 1934, organizers festooned that year's evergreen with 1,200 colored lights and ornaments shaped like dogs, horses, giraffes, sailboats and stars. A public-address system also piped in holiday tunes, creating the effect of a singing tree. The 1950s saw a white spray-painted tree, the return of garlands made of cranberries and popcorn (or, at least, plastic balls that resembled the festive foodstuffs) and 10-ft.-long aluminum icicles that turned treacherous in high winds. In 1954, Saks Fifth Avenue inadvertently created midtown traffic jams with its 32-ft.-high display of aluminum angels floating along the building's facade, above. And for a few brief minutes in 1980, a human body adorned the tree before police could arrest the man who had unsuccessfully tried scaling it.
In 2014, pop star Fergie unveiled the 550-lb. Swarovski Star, created for the Rockefeller Christmas tree by German artist Michael Hammers for the 100-year-old Austrian company. Standing 10 ft. tall and composed of 25,000 crystals with a total of 1 million facets, it was the largest star to ever top the tree and the first to represent a corporate sponsor. Neither the crystalmaker nor Rockefeller Center would disclose how much money changed hands, but some speculate Swarovski paid as much as $1.5 million for the rights to the tree's crown. Either way, it is a far cry from the 4-ft. plastic star used during the 1950s and '60s or the fiberglass and gold-leaf star that adorned the tree during the late 1990s.
This year the tree will be decorated with 45,000 multicolored LED lights strung on five miles of wire, and topped with a 9.5-foot Swarovski crystal star. The star raising is set for November 16, and the tree lighting will take place on December 2.
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