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Rockefeller Center Christmas tree goes up today

The 2016 Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is almost a century old, 94 feet tall, 56 feet in diameter and weighs about 14 tons. Workers prepared to put up the tree on Nov. 12, 2016. (Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes)

O, Christmas tree!

A 94-foot-tall Norway spruce from upstate Oneonta was hoisted into position Saturday at Rockefeller Center, which is celebrating the second-tallest Christmas tree ever to adorn the plaza.

The tradition of putting up a Christmas tree as Rockefeller Center’s centerpiece began in 1933, with a tree with 700 lights. This year’s tree will feature more than 50,000 multicolored, LED lights strung with over five miles of wire, according to a spokeswoman for the Rockefeller Center landlord, Tishman Speyer.

“We drove it down over the last two days, brought it into the city last night and today we’re going to stand it up and start decorating it and get it ready for a tree lighting on Nov. 30,” said Erik Pauze of Bay Shore, Rockefeller Center’s head gardener, who’s worked there for nearly 30 years. “Today, we’re gonna use a crane, we’re gonna stand up a tree. It’s gonna take about maybe 30 guys to stand it up and get it nice and straight, and secure it.”

The tree was donated by Angie and Graig Eichler, who said it was bittersweet to see the tree go — “a pain,” he explained, because the roots pushing up from the ground would make mowing the lawn difficult.

Pauze chose the tree himself.

“He was just driving down our street and saw it in our backyard,” Angie Eichler said.

The tree had to be lifted by two cranes and floated above the house. It was driven to the city on a flatbed truck.

The annual display is expected to draw about 2.5 million spectators and can be viewed by the public through Jan. 7, when the tree will be prepared to be milled into lumber to be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

The tallest tree installed in Rockefeller Center was in 1999: a 100-footer from Killington, Connecticut.

As for the Eichler home’s Christmas tree, it’s, well, smaller.

“We have an artificial tree,” Angie Eichler said with a laugh.


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