Rockefeller Tree Hoisted on the Plaza, Signaling Start of Holiday Season

The 76-foot Norway spruce that will bedazzle the nation when its 45,000 LED lights are switched on during a two-hour holiday celebration next month has been hoisted in Rockefeller Plaza following an overnight journey from Connecticut. 

Chopper 4 hovered over the giant tree as it made its way down 49th Street.

For the second time in six years, the city of Shelton sent a tree to Rockefeller Center for the annual holiday display. Workers cut down the tree Thursday and a tractor-trailer took it 70 miles to its new midtown home.

Crews hoisted the tree off the flatbed truck that hauled it to the plaza and spent hours Friday positioning it, trimming its branches and fortifying its base ahead of the Dec. 4 lighting. The tree will remain on display until Jan. 7.

Excited visitors watched as the tree was erected on Rockefeller Plaza throughout the day.

"It's such a huge tree, it's very spectacular to see," said one woman. 

The tree stood in the yard of the Vargoshe family home in Shelton for over 20 years.

"It's very exciting that the people of New York and the world get to see the tree that was in our front yard for so many years," Louise Vargoshe said Friday. 

Hundreds of thousands of people pack the streets surrounding the plaza for the tree lighting each year, with many watching the action on giant screens set up on side streets. 

The annual event was inspired by construction workers who erected a tree of their own in 1931, decorating it with cranberries, paper garland and tin cans, according to Daniel Okrent's "Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center."

First televised in 1951 on NBC, the tree lighting has grown to attract a quarter-million spectators and an audience of millions. With so many eyes on the tree, nothing is left to chance — organizers have backup generators on hand in case of a power outage.

Mayor Mark Lauretti says furnishing Rockefeller Center with a tree is a big deal for Shelton, which calls itself "the best affordable suburb in Connecticut."

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