Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: New York City

postmarked in Dec. 2009 with a 28 cent stamp

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The Tree at Rockefeller Center is an annual Christmas tree lighting that takes place in New York City's Rockefeller Center. The tree is erected and lit in early December or late-November. In recent years, the lighting has been broadcast live nationwide on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center show. The tree, usually a Norway spruce 75 to 90 feet (23 to 27 m) tall, has been put up every year since 1931.

The tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a small balsam fir tree with "strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans" on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1931.

David Murbach, Mgr. of the Gardens Division of Rockefeller Center, scouts in a helicopter for the desired tree in areas including Connecticut, Vermont, Ohio, New Jersey, and even Ottawa, Canada. Once a suitable tree is located, a crane supports it while it is cut, and moves it to a custom telescoping trailer that can transport trees up to 125 feet (38 m) tall.

Once at the Rockefeller Center, the tree is supported by wire attached at its midpoint, and by a steel spike at its base. Scaffolding is put up around the tree to assist workers in putting up 30,000 lights attached to 5 miles (8 km) of wiring.
The star that has topped the tree since 2004 is 9.5 feet (3 m) in diameter and weighs 550 pounds (249.5 kg).

The decorated Christmas tree remains lit at Rockefeller Center until the week after New Year's Day, when it is removed and recycled for a variety of uses. In 2007, the tree went "green," employing LED lights. After being taken down, the tree was used to furnish lumber for Habitat for Humanity house construction.

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