Thursday, November 11, 2021

O Christmas Tree

 In Rockefeller Center  by Martha Rogers

After reading a novella and watching a movie about searching for a tree for the Center, I decided to do some research on it. It's not as old as I thought it was, but this year the tradition celebrates its 90th year.  

Back in 1931, during the depression, construction workers at the center pooled their money to put a twenty foot tree on the site as a gathering place to reflect on what was happening in the country at that time. Decorations were garlands of cranberries, popcorn, and tin cans made by members of the workers' families. No lights were used on that first tree.

Two years later, the first official tree, a 50 foot Balsam Fir was put up. Lights adorned the tree and the first official tree lighting became a great beacon for all New Yorkers as well as visitors. The skating rink opened below the tree eighty-five years ago in 1936. 

Since then the tree has been erected every year and must meet certain requirements before the live tree is selected and brought to the city. No money is given in payment for the tree, but growers all over the country send in their applications for their tree to be selected as the Rockefeller Center tree. The tree ranges in height from 50 to 90 feet and now is most likely to be a Norway Spruce. Early trees included White Spruce, Balsam Fir, and Norman Spruce.

The tree is cut down and brought in by truck from various Christmas tree farms in mostly the northeast. One year a Canadian tree was chosen and hauled down to New York. When the arrival time is known, people crowd the streets to see the tree on the truck and then to watch it being put up.

From 1941 to 1944, the tree remained unlighted due to blackout regulations during the war. The decorations were red, white and blue globes and wooden stars to honor our service men fighting for our country. In 1942, three smaller trees rather than one large one were used. Each was decorated in the colors of our country. That year, no materials used in the war could be used on the tree, so the three smaller ones were used.  

After the war, we left the darkness behind us, and once again the tree lit up the Plaza. Workers installed six ultraviolet light projectors to make the 700 fluorescent globes glow in the dark. In 1949, much more than the tree decorated the plaza. they went all out with lighting in one of the wildest displays ever.

Because of its height as it grew taller year by year, scaffolds were erected and by the end of the '50's decade, twenty workers and nine days were required to complete the tree. 

This is how they lifted the tree to its resting place

This is how it looks when the scaffolds are added to decorate the tree.

 In 1951, NBC came and marked the first televised tree lighting with a special on a show hosted by Kate Smith. Then in 1969, an artist by the name of Valerie Clarebout sculpted 12 herald angels using 75 points of metal in each one. These were displayed in the Channel Gardens in front of tree near Fifth Avenue. I recently saw them on TV in a movie set in New York.

What to do with the tree after Christmas? In 1971 a tree from Vermont became the first one to be mulched and recycled. Thirty bushel bags of mulch were then used for the nature trails of upper Manhattan. Since 2007, the tree has been milled and turned in lumber and donated to Habitat for Humanity in building their homes. In 2001, after the 9/11 attacks, the tree once again bore patriotic decorations

The tree also went green in 1907 by switching to LED lights which use less energy. In 1998, instead of coming by truck, the tree was flown in from Richfield, Ohio on the world's largest transport plane. In 1999, the tallest tree at 100 feet went up.

Today, the tree lighting is broadcast on TV by NBC and even live-streamed in a show that includes singing and other acts in the special with the tree lighting coming in the last ten minutes. That star on top is a 900 pound Swarovski Crystal.


Many cities across the nation still have tree lighting events. We have one at City Hall here in Houston and also a lighting event in the Galleria area. What about your city? Does your town or city still have a tree lighting event? 

Below is my 2021 Christmas Release

Many stories abound concerning the old Farnsworth Manor Estate with a witch or a ghost being the occupant sometimes seen as a shadow in the window. Nathan Farnsworth returns to Mandeville to dispel those stories, take care of his elderly grandmother, serve on the medical staff of the Mandeville Infirmary, and possibly revive his relationship with Penelope Carlson, the girl he loved in his youth. Penelope, a reporter for the town newspaper, has always been interested in the Farnsworth house because of Nathan and her love for him so many years ago. Now that he’s back, she hopes to learn more and possibly meet Nathan’s reclusive grandmother. A week before Christmas, a news story dug up by another reporter paints a dark picture of Olivia Farnsworth and leaves many questions unanswered. Because his grandmother gave Penelope the true story to reveal at Christmas instead of earlier, Nathan believes Penelope has betrayed his trust. Penny must make amends and make sure the true story is told. Will she be able to win back Nathan’s love and trust and help him to carry on the Farnsworth legacy?  

Martha Rogers is a multi-published best-selling author of over sixty novels and novellas.  She is a member of ACFW, CAN, and AWSA. Martha teaches a Sunday Bible class for senior women and is a retired English and Home Ec. Teacher. She lives in Houston with Rex, her husband of 61 years. 


  1. Thanks for posting! I say this every year, but I can't believe it's already time to talk about this! Our town decorates its' one main street but I'm not sure if there's an actual celebration. We have always had fun as a family, and I did when I was a child, taking nighttime drives to see all the lights in the area.

    1. I remember those night drives through decorated neighborhoods. They were sure a lot simpler back then. Small town decorations are sometimes the best. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. cool post today. thanks for sharing. yes our town still puts up a christmas tree. It goes up the week after thanksgiving and the whole town is invited to participate with decorating the tree and surrounding area. there is hot chocolate and christmas cookies for everyone.

    1. That sounds like a fun tradition. It seems that nearly all Christmas movies from Hallmark Channel have one. When it's in your own town or city, it's more special. Bet your town looks beautiful during the Holidays.

  3. Love the post our town decorates but I am thing they don't have a Christmas Tree in our town I always love seeing all the decorations and lights!

  4. I love the lights and decorations, too. Thanks for stopping by.