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'Christmas in Rockefeller Center': Lighting the World's Most Famous Tree (VIDEO)

by Oliver Miller, posted Dec 1st 2010 12:10AM
Lighting the World's Most Famous Tree on 'Christmas in Rockefeller Center'When it comes to Christmas trees, bigger isn't necessarily better. In this case, though, bigger is a pretty big deal.

Lighting the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan is an eight-decade-old tradition, dating back to 1931. The ritual itself had humble beginnings. On Christmas Eve, 1931, Depression-era builders stopped their work on Rockefeller Plaza, gathering together to decorate a 20-foot fir tree with strings of cranberries, paper garlands and -- touchingly -- a few tin cans.

Tonight, the 78th official ceremony was broadcast live during the 'Christmas in Rockefeller Center' event (Mon., 8PM ET on NBC). Performers at this year's show included Susan Boyle, Josh Groban, and Jessica Simpson. But the real star, of course, is the world-famous tree itself. ... Speaking of stars, this year's tree is topped with one made of Swarovski crystal. The star decoration measures over nine feet in diameter; it weighs 550 pounds. Certainly a far cry from paper and tin cans.

The tree itself is 74 feet tall, and is illuminated with five miles worth of Christmas lights. But size really isn't the issue here. The important thing is that for eight decades now, residents of New York City have gathered together -- builders and pop stars, children and adults -- in order to celebrate the holidays. And so, enjoy your countdown to the Christmas season, starting in 3, 2, 1 ...

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