Rockefeller Tree

In honor of the tree at Rockefeller Center, which comes down today (and which I never got around to seeing), I decided that it was only fair to learn a little bit more about this legendary tradition. I enlisted the help of my favorite guest blogger Pete, who graciously compiled a book report on the Rockefeller Tree. Thanks Petey!

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

The Rockefeller Christmas tree has become a Christmas attraction for all who visit and inhabit the city that never sleeps. Located in Rockefeller Center, it is erected and lit in early December or late November and remains lit until a week or so after New Year’s. The tree is usually a Norway Spruce, and for the past 5 years has ranged anywhere from 75-90 feet tall. The tree displays 30,000 lights which are held in place by 5 miles of wiring. The star that tops the tree is comprised of Swarovski crystals, and weights 550 lbs. In 2007, the tree had “gone green” by using LED lights. After being taken down, the remains are used as lumber for Habitat for Humanity. The tree has been a tradition since 1931, when disparaged workers during the Depression era erected a smaller Christmas tree with strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans in order to lift the spirits of the working class.

David Murbach, the manager of the Gardens Division of Rockefeller Center scouts woodlands by helicopter for the desired tree. Recently trees have come from NY, CT, NJ and even British Columbia. Unfortunately, Murbach was found dead on Dec. 23, 2009 in his West Palm Beach apt. at the ripe age of 57. Back in 1994, Murbach described his responsibility as “being on his mind everyday.” He always had a few specifications in mind: 70 to 80 feet tall, fullness (7 or so tons) and shapliness (evenly spaced triangular branches). Murdoch attended the University of Arizona in 1974 where he studied Natural Resource planning and Horticulture. In 1984 he earned a Master’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture at the University of Delaware (editors note: its… so…good to be a Blue Hen!). Murdoch was born in Amityville, NY (on Long Island), and grew up in nearby Merrick.


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