People from around New York — and around the world — packed into Rockefeller Plaza on Wednesday night, for one of the city’s most beloved holiday traditions.
Crowds returned to see the Rockefeller Tree lighting in person, after the ceremony was closed to the public last year due to the pandemic.
All it takes is one flip of the switch, and just like that it’s Christmas time in the city.
“Definitely the official start of the Christmas season,” said Brooklynite Candace Robinson. “You feel the energy, you feel the happiness, and the whole season of the holiday, it’s wonderful.”
Those festive feelings are why Robinson has come out to the tree lighting in years past, but says she especially wanted to come out this year.
“Because of the pandemic, we weren’t able to come down here and celebrate like we normally do, so coming this year makes it that much special,” Robinson said.
For the first time ever, this year’s tree came from Maryland. The Norway Spruce is 79 feet tall, 46 feet wide, and weighs 12 tons.
After Wednesday, it’s now shining bright with more than 50,000 LED lights: five miles of wire.
“It was always my big dream to be here at Christmas time,” said Vanessa Wichent, visiting from Germany.
“I’ve watched it on TV all the time, and I was like, ‘I would love to be there in amongst all those people,’” said Pat Gaehle, in town from St. Louis.
The crowd didn’t seem to be phased by concerns about the COVID-19 omicron variant.
“We just have to live our lives, and you still can be cautious, and you should still do things to protect yourself and be wise, but you can’t just live in a bubble, none of us can,” Gaehle said.
“Everyone gets happy and they’re excited, once the lights come on, they’re screaming, some people are hugging each other, kissing each other,” said Robinson. “Might be a little different because of the pandemic, but you can feel it, you can feel the energy, the excitement, everything that the holidays bring.”
The tree will stay up through mid-January.
It’ll be lit up every day from 6 a.m. through midnight, and lit 24 hours on Christmas Day.