Oh, Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Tree in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Rockefeller Tree (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Draped in thousands of multi-colored lights and topped with a Swarovski star, the 81st Rockefeller Center Christmas tree ‘came to light’ on December 4th just before 9:00 pm, as witnessed by tens of thousands of spectators and the millions watching live on television.  This year’s 76 foot Norway spruce is the second to come from Connecticut in six years, heralding from the small town of Shelton about 70 miles from Manhattan. 

Cutting the 2013 Rockefeller Tree in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Cutting the 2013 Rockefeller Tree (photo credit: myfox8.com)

The Vargoshe family had submitted a picture of their 75 year old tree to The Rockefeller Center’s website in January, and almost forgot about it until receiving a knock on their door from Rockefeller’s head gardener in March, requesting a closer look.  Approximately eight months later, on November 7th, the twelve ton tree was cut down and by the following morning was on the back of a hundred foot flatbed truck heading for Manhattan (*with a Red Sox tee shirt tucked in its branches for good luck, since the last Rockefeller tree from Connecticut was in 2007 when the Red Sox won the world series).

The 80th Rockefeller Tree in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The 80th Rockefeller Tree (photo credit: theexaminer.com)

The 80th Rockefeller Center tree from Mount Olive, New Jersey, also benefitted from a bit of good luck, surviving incredible winds from hurricane Sandy, even without a baseball tee adorning its limbs. Standing at about 22 feet in 1973, the majestic 80 foot Norway spruce’s strength was substantially tested by the winds of hurricane Sandy forty years later, miraculously holding its ground while nearby oaks and evergreens succumbed.  The proud “80th” was presented and celebrated on November 28th, 2012.

The First Rockefeller Center Tree1931in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The First Rockefeller Center Tree in 1931(photo credit: Rockefeller Archive Center)

Although the tree lighting tradition didn’t officially start until 1933 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is a tradition that dates back to 1931, when a tree was erected on the center’s site by construction workers.  The first tree was a 20 foot balsam fir decorated with depression area ornaments such as cranberries, tin foil, blasting caps and paper garland, a far cry from the embellishments that have adorned the trees over the last few decades. Typically, the Rockefeller trees have been Norway spruces, ranging in size from 67 feet to the tallest at 100 feet, which came from Killingworth, CT in 1999.  Many of the trees were donated over the years, but other methods of locating a suitable tree have also been used, such as helicopters and scouting by the head gardener.  Searches have included areas from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, but one tree was selected from distant Richfield, Ohio in 1998.

The 2013 Rockefeller Tree in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The 2013 Rockefeller Tree (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

In recent years, the lighting has been scheduled for the Wednesday following Thanksgiving, which explains why it was so late this year (usually the lighting occurs in November). Supported by four guy wires and a steel spike at the base, scaffolding is used to hold workers while they install the lights.  Gone forever are the cranberries and blasting caps, replaced by 45,000 multi-colored LED lights and topped by a 9 foot wide Swarovski star.  And not just any star, but a gigantic luminary covered with 25,000 crystals, and weighing in at 550 pounds.  Comprised of six outer and inner rays made of shatter-proof glass, the Swarovski star is strategically placed to enhance its glow-with some assistance from 700 energy efficient LED bulbs.

The 2013 Rockefeller Tree in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The 2013 Rockefeller Tree (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Although the 81st tree will continue to shine brightly until Jan. 7 (after which it will be recycled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity), its lights, and those from years past, will continue to shine in our hearts and spirits throughout the New Year.  And once spring arrives, perhaps you’ll plant a little Norway spruce out in your back yard.  Who knows . . . you’re odds are a lot better for growing a future Rockefeller tree than winning the lottery, and either way you’re a winner!

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Comments

  1. Merry Christmas, Kathy and thanks for all the interesting and informative posts. Have a happy, healthy 2014. And keep writing!

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