Wednesday, November 28, 2007

rockefeller tree lighting

This year, all the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lights are green.

The holiday display, lit at a Wednesday night ceremony, still includes a rainbow of colors. But this year the 84-foot-tall Norway spruce is sporting energy-saving bulbs.

Early revelers had begun gathering around the tree by Wednesday afternoon, hoping to snag a good view of performances by singers including Tony Bennett, Josh Groban and Ashley Tisdale.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Radio City Rockettes helped flip the switch for the tree lights shortly before 9 p.m.

A group of friends visiting the city from Caorle, Italy, near Venice, began waiting about 4:30 p.m., securing a position against police barricades.

"In Italy each year they show it to us on TV," Maria Teresa Marchesano said in Italian of the lighting.

Her friend Aurelio Bellini added: "But living this moment live is magic."

This year's 60-year-old spruce comes from the Shelton, Conn., backyard of Joseph and Judy Rivnyak. It has been covered with 5 miles of wire and 30,000 multicolored bulbs known as light emitting diodes, or LEDs.

Using the new lights is expected to reduce the energy consumption of the holiday display from 3,510 to 1,297 kilowatt hours per day. That daily savings would be equal to the amount of energy used to power a 2,000-square-foot home for a month.

Organizers also are planning to recycle the tree by using it as lumber for Habitat For Humanity projects in New York, the Gulf Coast, India and Brazil.

The tree's topper can sparkle even without any lights: The Swarovski star is adorned with 25,000 crystals. It's almost 10 feet in diameter.

NBC broadcast part of the tree lighting event, which also included vocal performances by Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Natasha Bedingfield, Sean Kingston and Taylor Swift.

This is the 75th formal tree lighting ceremony at the Art Deco plaza in midtown Manhattan. While the first official lighting was in 1933, the first Rockefeller Christmas tree was put up two years earlier by workers helping to build the complex.

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