Approximately 90 years after it first sprouted to life on a quiet piece of land in Elkton, Maryland, a 79-foot Norway Spruce arrived in Midtown Manhattan on Saturday morning to assume its role as the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
The tree, which weighs about 12 tons and made the 140-mile journey from Maryland on a 115-foot flatbed trailer, comes courtesy of Devon and Julie Price, who lived as its neighbors for more than 30 years before donating it to the city.
"To have a tree like this come to New York City in its prime, probably the biggest stage it could ever be on, and bring joy and happiness to millions of people who hopefully can visit New York City through the holiday season... It's awesome," Devon told Gothamist this morning. Julie agreed, "We're very happy, it's a special time, it's magical to have our tree be the showcase for NYC."
A modest crowd watched the nearly three hour-long proceedings, from when the truck pulled onto the plaza at around 7:30 a.m. to the ceremonial spike insertion and grand hoisting into the mega-sized tree stand, where the spruce will spend the rest of its days before being milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.
A few spectators snagged a souvenir pine cone, or a bough, but most people just wanted to bask in some early holiday-season tidings of comfort and joy. "It gets you into the festiveness and spirit of Christmas," said Steven Wilson of West New Jersey. "It's a beautiful tree. It's good to get back into the spirit, so much stuff is going on in the world but at least you can see a little joy and happiness and hope here."
The Rockefeller Center Christmas will be strung with some 50,000 colored LEDs, topped with a 900 pound Swarovski crystal star, and lit on December 1st as part of a televised special.