An NYPD cop stands guard during the 87th annual tree lighting ceremony at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, USA, 4 December 2019. EFE-EPA/JASON SZENES
New York, December 5 (IANS) Christmas arrived in New York with the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree, the Norway Spruce at the Rockefeller Center, an event attended by thousands of people who defied an intensely cold winter day.
The highly-anticipated live televised event on Wednesday, which takes place during the week after Thanksgiving, featured performances by legendary band Chicago and Jon Bon Jovi, as well as John Legend, the first to take the stage, and Brett Eldredge, reports Efe news.
Also present were Billy Porter, Julianne and Derek Hough, Lea Michele, Idina Menzel, Ne-Yo, a cappella group Straight No Chaser, the famous dance company Radio City Rockettes and Gwen Stefani, whose performance ended with the lighting of the tree with over 50,000 colourful lights.
Both New Yorkers and tourists enjoyed the event - due to which several streets around Rockefeller Center had been closed - as well as the show, which ran for several hours.
As on previous occasions, the tree was topped by a star made of three million Swarovski crystals.
This year, the 77 feet-high tree weighing 14 tonnes arrived at Rockefeller Center on November 9 from the town of Florida, in northern New York state, much to the delight of its owner, 79-year-old Carol Schultz.
The 88th tree to grace Rockefeller Center was planted by Schultz shortly after she moved to Florida from Orange County in 1959.
The tradition was started on Christmas Eve 1931 by a group of construction workers who were building the Rockefeller Center.
However, the formal, annual lighting of the tree only began two years later and has continued ever since with some variations in the ceremony over the years.
Around 798,000 people are expected to visit the tree every day, according to Rockefeller Center.
As has been the case for the past 12 twelve years, the tree - which will be at Rockefeller Center until January 17, 2020 - will later be donated to Habitat for Humanity, an American NGO founded in 1976 that builds shelters for those in need throughout the world.
The non-profit will use the wood obtained from the tree to build homes, according to the Rockefeller Center website.