Some things, at least, haven’t changed in the COVID-19 era. The holidays are now official with the lighting this week of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Tishman Speyer President and CEO Rob Speyer.
More than 50,000 multi-colored, energy-efficient LED lights, strung on five miles of wire, adorn the 75-foot tall, 45-foot wide Norway Spruce that is topped with a Swarovski star.
“This year, we just feel the tree is vital,” Speyer said. “The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree always represents the holiday season, but it has also stood tall as a symbol of hope, resilience and New York’s enduring spirit, from the Great Depression to 9/11, Superstorm Sandy through today. 2020 has been a difficult year, but New Yorkers have persevered, and we are determined to come back better and stronger. We are particularly proud to continue the joyous tradition this year.”
Rockefeller Center began its Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in 1933, when a Christmas tree was placed in front of the then-RCA Building and decorated with 700 lights. This year, however, saw and will see some pandemic-induced changes. Crowds were not permitted to witness the lighting in person. Dedicated viewing zones have been located on 49th and 50th Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues only. Virtual queuing will be activated to manage lines. Guests can scan a QR code to see wait time and receive an SMS to return to the line. Viewing is limited to five minutes, with masks mandated at all times. Social distancing will be enforced, with guests directed to delineated pods, spaced six feet apart, with no more than four people in one pod. Groups of more than four people will be separated into two pods. Center Plaza, where the tree is physically located, will be closed to the public.
This year’s tree comes from Oneonta, New York. The tree was cut down on November 12 and arrived in New York City on November 14, where it was raised into place at Rockefeller Plaza.