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Mayor: Pandemic means a cap on crowds for 30 Rock Christmas tree viewing

Visitors coming to Rockefeller Center this holiday season

Visitors coming to Rockefeller Center this holiday season to see the Christmas tree will find a cap on the number of people allowed in due to the coronavirus pandemic.   Credit: David Handschuh/David Handschuh

Our troubles may not be out of sight, but if the fates allow, Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to let visitors in to view the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, albeit while capping crowds to prevent a surge of coronavirus cases.

Speaking Tuesday morning as the number of diagnosed infections citywide continued to climb, de Blasio said of the tree visiting, "we want that to be a great experience, especially in the middle of everything people are dealing with."

"This is something really special each year for this city, and I don't know about you, but I still have a kind of childlike wonder when the lights go on in that tree each year," de Blasio said, adding: "I think people understand that we have to be really careful with the danger of a second wave, but we're going to take extra precautions to make sure that if people are trying to go by to see it, that we can keep it to the right number of folks at any given time."

The tradition of putting up a Christmas tree as Rockefeller Center's holiday season centerpiece began in 1933 and in recent years has annually drawn about 2.5 million spectators.

According to WGRZ News in Buffalo, this year's tree will come from the Oneonta area upstate.

Iva Benson, an outside spokeswoman for Rockefeller Center's landlord, Tishman Speyer, said the tree is always a Norway spruce. She texted that plans for the viewing are still being finalized but "it’ll certainly be socially distanced and limited."

As for travel to see family during Thanksgiving, de Blasio urged forbearance and predicted this will be the last Thanksgiving with the restrictions.

"You know, I'm not going to see some of the people I love the most for Thanksgiving and Christmas and it pains me. It really does," he said. "It's the — I think literally the first time in my life that I will be missing some of the people that would always be there. And I hate that. … But the thing we have to think about deep down is the greatest gift we can give to those we love is keep them safe."

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