NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — Long one of the most identifiable symbols of the holiday season, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be lit tonight as it has since 1933.
After a spectator-free lighting in 2020 due to pandemic restrictions, the crowd this year is expected to be abundant, and “Morning in America” correspondent Paul Gerke will be part of the crowd.
Gerke said Wednesday night’s event will be a masked, limited-capacity crowd, so no attendance records will be broken, but there will still be plenty on hand to see the nearly nine-story tree light up. Gerke said performers such as Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Norah Jones and Rob Thomas would provide the music along with, of course, the Radio City Rockettes.
The tree has been standing for a while, having arrived on a truck on Nov. 13. The tradition began in 1931, when some construction workers pooled their funds to buy a 20-foot tree that they decorated with homemade garlands. The installation became official and illuminated in 1933. The largest-ever tree was in 1999, when a 100-foot monster graced the center.
This year’s tree is a 79-foot-tall Norway spruce harvested from Elkton, Maryland, and weighing in at 12 tons. It will be lit by more than 50,000 LED lights and topped with a star made by Swarovski crystal.
When the season is over, Gerke reported, the tree doesn’t go to waste. The limbs will be mulched down and the trunk converted to lumber which will be stamped with the Rockefeller Center mark and used to build houses for Habitat for Humanity.