The countdown to Christmas is on and the holiday season kicks off in New York City with the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center.
The excitement this year is much higher than in 2020 because the ceremony was closed to the public due to the pandemic. Wednesday night the show goes on with thousands of people expected to watch the lighting ceremony in person.
For more than eight decades, the Rockefeller tree has been the holiday beacon for locals and visitors. Throughout the years, the lights, decorations and stars have changed but the tree remains a magnificent experience for the millions who flock to New York City each season.
The tradition began in December 1931 when Rockefeller Center workers put money together to buy a Christmas tree. The men decorated the 20-foot tree with handmade garlands made by their families.
Inspired by their employees' Christmas spirit, Rockefeller Center managers decided to make the Christmas tree an annual tradition. The very first lighting ceremony was in December 1933 with a crowd of New Yorkers attending.
This year's tree traveled 145 miles to Manhattan from Elkton, Maryland. The tree is a 79-foot Norway Spruce that weighs nearly 12 tons and is estimated to be about 85 years old.
The tree is decorated with more than 50,000 LED lights and topped with its iconic Swarovski crystal star.
According to the Rockefeller Center team, the Christmas tree selection process takes anywhere from one to three years.