Features NY Life — 21 December 2011
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree: The LocalBozo.com Five Days of Christmas

We here at LocalBozo pride ourselves on bringing you the very best of New York City with daily updates, and original content. And since it’s the Holiday Season we feel the need to give back to all our loyal readers by providing you, “The LocalBozo.com Five Days Of Christmas.” All this week we will inform you about great holiday happenings all over town. So, stay tuned and be merry!

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
47th & 50th Streets at 5th Avenue
New York, NY
(212) 632-3975
Getting There: B,D,F,V to 47-50th Streets- Rockefeller Center; 6 to 51st Street

Candidly, on Wednesday, November 30th we stayed as far away from midtown as possible, in order to avoid this year’s 79th Annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. And we avoided the area with good reason- swarms of tourists and fans of Buble and Bieber flock toward the massive space in the Center’s complex, making transportation around the area a literal holiday nightmare. But after giving the tree a few weeks to breathe, we relented, and made our way over to one of Manhattan’s tourist traps, and somehow year after year, remain blown away by its majesty.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is perhaps the most recognizable holiday symbol that represents New York City to the rest of the world. Laced with over five full miles of some 30,000 LED lights, and topped with an illuminated Swarovski star, the tree is the centerpiece of a small area bustling with a certain indescribable holiday energy. Overlooking the timeless Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center, there is perhaps no greater experience than taking in the Christmas music, watching family glide around the ice, under the big tree at nightfall.

Open daily from 5:30am to 11:30pm until it is taken down on January 7th, the tree, typically a Norway Spruce, must meet several criteria. Since the minimum requirement is 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide although the Center prefers a tree 75 to 90 feet tall, the Spruce is not an ideal option as it rarely reaches those measurements under normal growing conditions. Thus, each year the Tree is selected from a person’s yard. While they are given no real compensation, they can bask in the pride of their backyard on display for the entire world to see. It is the holiday season, what’d you expect, a check?

While the always impressive Tree and the Skating Rink are the true draws to the area, there’s plenty of other goings on to keep you busy for a few hours. First, Rockefeller Center is just around the corner from the historic Radio City Music Hall, a staple of New York City since 1932 and host to many concerts and shows, including the famed Rockettes at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular- a Manhattan tradition since 1933. Across the street on the other side, sits the famed Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, visited annually by more than 5.5 million tourists…er…people, with more than 1 million prayer candles lit per year. Plans were laid out to open the Cathedral as early as 1858, before its actual opening in 1879. The Cathedral, the Music Hall, and Rock Center all have been granted National Landmarks here in New York City.

Atop Rockefeller Center also sits “Top of the Rock” the observation deck that offers bird’s eye panoramic views of Manhattan, which includes the Empire State Building. Below are a variety of different stores and shopping options, a favorite of ours is the NBC Experience Store featuring some lame/some funny merchandise from your favorite ‘peacock’ brands. The store also is the meeting ground for the NBC Experience Tour, which literally takes you inside the studios of Football Night in America, Dr. Oz, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Saturday Night Live’s Studio 8-H.

With any visit to the area, you’re going to encounter a crowd of tourists, but at Rockefeller Center, there’s enough things surrounding you to keep you busy and entertained, and help you take pleasure in what’s left of the holiday season.

- Jane Van Arsdale

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