Rockefeller Center tree lighting – NJ survival guide
Few things signal the start of the holiday season more than the annual tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
On Wednesday, Nov. 30, the switch will be thrown, and more than 50,000 LED lights will shine from the 82-foot-tall tree topped with a 3D star that weighs more than 900-pounds.
The ceremony will feature the Radio City Rockettes and a number of performances by today's biggest stars.
If you are thinking of heading into the city to join the festivities, here is what you need to know about it.
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2020
Rockefeller Center on 49th Street (Between 5th and 6th Avenues)
The lights come on approximately 9 p.m.
Who is performing?
According to ENews, this year's performers include: Alicia Keys, Jimmie Allen, Brett Eldredge, Mickey Guyton, Dan + Shay, The Shindellas and Louis York, along with David Foster and Katharine McPhee, Andrea, Matteo and Virginia Bocelli, The Muppets of Sesame Street.
Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani will team up to sing their holiday hit "You Make It Feel Like Christmas."
Travel options from New Jersey
The experts say you shouldn't even consider driving into New York City on Wednesday. It will be a major gridlock alert day due to the tree lighting.
New Jersey 101.5 traffic reporter Bob Williams notes there are many options to get you into Rockefeller Center from the Garden State using mass transit.
Rockefeller Center is located on 49th Street between 6th and 5th Avenues
New Jersey Transit Trains to New York Penn Station (34th Street)
New Jersey Transit and Commuter Bus Lines to Port Authority Bus Terminal (42nd Street)
PATH Trains to World Trade Center or 33rd Street
All of these options connect with the MTA's "E" Line Subway with stops at 8th Avenue/50th Street and 5th Avenue/53rd Street.
New York Waterway Ferry Service to Midtown/West 39th Street terminal:
*Connect with their FREE Midtown Shuttle Bus Lines which run loops along West 44th and West 50th Streets to 6th Avenue
Ferry Service from Monmouth County to Lower Manhattan:
*Connect with MTA "R" Line Subway at South Ferry which will bring you to 49th Street and 7th Avenue.
This year's tree comes from Queensbury, NY. It is a Norway spruce standing 82 feet tall and 50 feet wide. It weighs an estimated 14 tons and is between 85-90 years old.
Once the tree has been taken down, it will be milled into lumber that is donated to Habitat for Humanity to build homes.
The first Christmas tree was put up by Rockefeller Center workers in 1931. It was small by today's standards: a 20-foot Balsam Fir tree that was decorated by hand with cranberries and paper garland.
A 50-foot tree was brought in two years later and began the official tradition of lighting a tree at Rockefeller Center. A skating rink was opened beneath the tree in 1936.
The tallest tree was a 94-foot Norway Spruce in 2016.
While the first tree was a fir, every tree since 1934 has been either a Norway or White spruce.
Rockefeller Center's Head Gardener, Erik Pauze, typically scouts for trees by helicopter in the months leading up to the holidays.
The New Jersey connection
Since 1931, the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has come from New Jersey no fewer than 19 times.
The first was in 1936 and was a 70-foot Norway spruce from Morristown. That year, there were actually two trees, adorning the newly opened ice rink.
New Jersey last provided the tree in 2012. It was an 80-foot Norway spruce from Flanders.
Is it on TV?
NBC has been broadcasting the performances and lighting since 1997. They will do so again this year, with the "NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center" broadcast beginning at 8 p.m.