New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presided over the lighting of a towering Norway Spruce in Rockefeller Center on Wednesday. The 12-ton tree will stay in place until early January.
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
With a flick of the switch, a 76-foot Norway Spruce officially became the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree Wednesday night after it was illuminated for the first time this holiday season in a ceremony that's been held since 1933.
"It's gorgeous, it's enormous," said Kristy Connery of the massive tree towering above the hundreds of thousands of people who gathered to watch the ceremony. "Christmas is my favorite time of the year."
Lamar Lakins, 37, a housekeeper from Queens, brought his wife, mother, 10-year-old daughter Shanel, and newborn son to watch the performances and see the tree lighting.
He and Shanel danced together in the plaza during a performance of "Jingle Bells."
"I just love this," he said of the gathering. "It's just people out enjoying themselves. I'm definitely a fan of the holiday season."
The approximately 75-year-old tree made the 70-mile trip to New York City on a tractor-trailer from its home in Shelton, Conn., last month.
Danbury, Conn., resident Mary Hynes, 60, declared the show to be "outstanding."
"The excitement of the crowd, the brilliance of the lights. It was great," she said.
They dedicated the broadcast to James Lovell, 58, a married father of four and a sound and lighting expert who worked on the tree. Lovell was one of four people killed when a Metro-North commuter train derailed in the Bronx on Sunday. He was on his way to work on the tree when the accident occurred.