NEW YORK (AP) — With a flick of the switch, a 76-foot Norway Spruce officially became the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree Wednesday night after it was illuminated for the first time this holiday season in a ceremony that's been held since 1933.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned on the lights just before 9 p.m., setting off a dazzling 45,000 multi-colored LED lights and a 9 ½-foot-wide Swarovski star that topped the 12-ton tree.
Adam Connery, 41, and his wife Kristy Connery, 37, from Tyngsborough, Mass., watched the ceremony on their first vacation to New York City.
"It's gorgeous, it's enormous," said Kristy Connery of the massive tree towering above the hundreds of thousands of people who gathered to watch the ceremony. "Christmas is my favorite time of the year."
The holiday event in midtown Manhattan also was watched by millions on television. The tree will be on display until Jan. 7, after which it'll be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.
Artists such as Mary J. Blige, the Goo Goo Dolls, Jewel, Mariah Carey and Leona Lewis performed.
Lamar Lakins, 37, a housekeeper from Queens, brought his wife, mother, 10-year-old daughter Shanel, and newborn son to watch the performances and see the tree lighting.