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Rockefeller Center Christmas tree featuring 50,000 colored lights to be lit Wednesday

The Swarovski star that will be placed atop

The Swarovski star that will be placed atop the 77-foot Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which will be lit Wednesday. Credit: AP/Diane Bondareff

The tree-lighting ceremony for Rockefeller Center's towering Norwegian spruce on Wednesday evening will compete with an overcast sky as 50,000 colored lights and the 9-foot-wide Swarovski crystal star blaze forth.

This is the eighth decade New Yorkers have joined people from countless other nations to celebrate the beauty nature has wrought. This year's tree is nearly as old as it is tall: 77 feet and in its seventh decade.

"From the beginning, the Tree was a gathering place and reflection of what was happening in the world around it," Rockefeller Center said on its website.

"Even before the first formal tree went up, workers lined up beneath a Christmas tree on the Rockefeller Plaza construction site to collect their paychecks during the height of the Great Depression," it said. People from around the world viewed the tree, decorated in red, white and blue, after 9/11.

Wednesday's nightime temperature should be about 35 — around the mean for the month, the Islip-based National Weather Service said. Yet the wind chill could make it feel as low as 25.

Anyone who fears the throngs — though New York City this year has given pedestrians more room by closing some side streets and narrowing Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of Americas with movable barriers — can watch the broadcast on NBC, starting at 7 p.m. locally and 8 p.m. nationally.

By the time the show ends, around 10 p.m., these performers — and others yet to be announced — will have braved the chill: John Legend, Brett Eldredge, Gwen Stefani, Julianne and Derek Hough, Lea Michele, Chicago, Idina Menzel, Ne-Yo, Straight No Chaser, Alex Newell and Skylar Astin, officials said. Also expected to appear are Miss America 2019 Nia Franklin and the Radio City Rockettes.

The last day to see the tree, before it is donated to the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity, is Jan. 17. 

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