The tree is lit, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is another tradition back for a 75th season. The well-seasoned Rockettes steal the show from Santa every year, and have quite a history -- they were originally called The Roxyettes and originated in...Missouri:

The group was started by Russell Markert in 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri as the "Missouri Rockets". In 1927, Samuel Roxy Rothafel discovered them and brought them to New York City. They in many ways took over what the Ziegfeld Follies had been before Flo Ziegfeld's death. Their NYC debut was in Rothafel's own Roxy Theater on 50th and 7th, and under the name "Roxyettes". Rothafel moved them to their current stead, opening of the Radio City Music Hall on December 27, 1932.

Not all their history is good, however -- did you know that the troupe didn't allow African-Americans into the dance line until 1987, saying it would only distract from their symmetrical and consistent look? 1987! The Times reports on other changes that have taken place over the years, with this year's show getting "modernized choreography and high-tech backdrops." One of those backdrops is a detailed "tour of NYC" that the Rockettes go on while on a double-decker Grayline bus. But the "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" routine is still around and kicking...or falling.


For the first time, NBC is broadcasting a one-special of the Christmas Spectacular this Friday at 8PM. Don Hewitt, the retired 60 Minutes creator, is producing.

Photos via cdsevents's flickr and Tien Mao.