It's time for gifts, lights, colors and customs... It's Christmas time! And what better way to celebrate the beginning of this magical period of the year except through the story of one of the most loved and appreciated American traditions?
Obviously I'm talking about the enormous Christmas tree that, since 1931, lights up Rockefeller Center during the holiday season. This year, the most famous Christmas tree in the world was lit for the first time on Wednesday, November 30, and each one has to know something about this green giant: where did it come from and what will happen to it after the end of Christmas time?
This year’s tree is a a 94-foot-tall Norway spruce proudly donated for the occasion from Angie and Graig Eichler’s backyard in Oneonta, New York. It’s approximately 90 to 95 years old, weighs about 14 tons and it is the second-largest tree in the history of Rockefeller Center. The spruce will be on display over downtown Manhattan until January 7, millions of locals and tourists will flock to Rockefeller Plaza to see the glow of its 50.000 lights and it will be recycled after the season.
Since adopting a more eco-friendly model in 2007, Rockefeller Center has partnered with Habitat for Humanity to reuse the wood for building materials. Lumber from the first tree was used, indeed, to build an house in Mississippi for a family who had lost their home after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the wood from the following trees has been used to build multi-family condominium complexes in Brooklyn, New York, Stanford and Conn.
In addition to recycling the wood from the giant Christmas tree, Rockefeller Center has taken serious steps to make its lighting eco-friendly. The tree is usually lit with thousands of lighting and, as you can imagine, all those lights require a huge amount of energy. But since 2007, the tree has been lit exclusively with LED lights which use a small fraction of the power traditionally required by the tree, including the Swarovski star on top. By switching to eco-friendly lighting, Rockefeller Center has managed to decrease the tree's daily energy consumption from a massive 3,510 kWh to 1,297 kWh per day. Hundreds of solar panels atop one of the Rockefeller buildings help power the new LEDs, making daily operation of the tree more energy-efficient than ever before.