Cue the tourists.
New York’s most famous holiday decoration arrived in Rockefeller Center Saturday morning.
Hundreds of spectators are surrounding the skating rink, cell phone cameras in hand, waiting for a crane to lift the 77-foot tall Norway spruce into place.
Once it’s upright, it will be surrounded by scaffolding for decorating with more than 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and a Swarovski star.
The tree will be lit during the “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” live broadcast on Dec. 4.
The tree, which Rockefeller Center revealed on Instagram in October, came from the Orange County, New York village of Florida. It was planted by Carol Schultze, 79, not long after moving into her Cedar Street home in 1958. When she bought it, it was so small that she “kept it in our house on a card table.”
“I never fertilized — I just talked to it,” Schultze said Saturday at Rockefeller Center, where she joined the crowd to watch her tree become the most famous Christmas tree in the country. She recalled that she had a bench under the tree and used to enjoy sitting beneath it.
She submitted the tree for consideration by Rockefeller Center in 2010, and was disappointed she hadn’t heard back. By luck, it got a second chance.
“In early spring I was driving through the Florida area and I saw this tree and I knocked on her door,” said Erik Pauze, 53, the head gardener at Rockefeller Center. “She told me she had sent it in and I said, ‘Wow that’s great because it has to go to Rockefeller Center.’”
Pauze said Schultze’s tree fit all the requirements for the iconic role. “It has to be beautiful, it has to have a nice Christmas shape,” he said. “It’s gotta look like the kind of tree you want to put in your living room, nice and full and perfect all around.”
More than 750,000 pedestrians a day visit Rockefeller Center during the holidays, creating massive jams on midtown sidewalks. To ease the congestion, the city plans to close two lanes of traffic on Fifth Avenue between 48th and 51st streets into pedestrian zones beginning shortly after Thanksgiving.
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