The 2011 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, with live and taped performances from 7 P.M. – 9 P.M., at Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th & West 51st Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is an annual Christmas tree lighting that takes place in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, in mid-town Manhattan. The tree is erected and lit in early December or late-November. In recent years, the lighting has been broadcast live nationwide on NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center show. The tree, usually a Norway spruce 69 to 100 ft (21 to 30 m) tall, has been put up, with the exception of 1932, every year since 1931. In 2010, the tree was lit on November 30, and is scheduled to remain illuminated until the first week of January, 2011. The tallest Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was a 100 ft (30 m) foot spruce erected in 1999.
Many Rockefeller trees were given to Rockefeller Center by donors. The late David Murbach, Mgr. of the Gardens Division of Rockefeller Center, scouted in a helicopter for the desired tree in areas including Connecticut, Vermont, Ohio, upstate New York, New Jersey, and even Ottawa, Canada. Once a suitable tree is located, a crane supports it while it is cut, and moves it to a custom telescoping trailer that can transport trees up to 125 ft (38 m) tall, although the width of New York City streets passing through Rockefeller Center limits the height of the trees to 110 ft (34 m).
Once at the Rockefeller Center, the tree is supported by four guy-wires attached at its midpoint, and by a steel spike at its base. Scaffolding is put up around the tree to assist workers in putting up 30,000 lights attached to 5 miles (8.0 km) of wiring.
The star that has topped the tree since 2004 is 9.5 ft (2.9 m) in diameter and weighs 550 pounds (250 kg). This “Swarovski Star” was created by German artist Michael Hammers, who in 2009 additionally designed his own star lighting production.Although the official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933 (the year the 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened), the unofficial tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a smaller 20 ft (6.1 m) balsam fir tree with “strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans” on Christmas Eve (December 24, 1931), as recounted by Daniel Okrent in his history of Rockefeller Center. Some accounts have the tree decorated with the tin foil ends of blasting caps. There was no Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 1932.
The decorated Christmas tree remains lit at Rockefeller Center until the week after New Year’s Day, when it is removed and recycled for a variety of uses. In 2007, the tree went “green,” employing LED lights. After being taken down, the tree was used to furnish lumber for Habitat for Humanity house construction.