Gridlock alert! Gridlock alert!
Ah, there’s nothing like the sounds of the holidays in New York. Today is one of the biggest gridlock alert days of the year, because what is arguably the most famous Christmas tree in the country gets all decked out tonight in the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony. (Yes, dear reader, we told you about the tree’s arrival in the city several weeks ago…)
The tree lighting itself takes place at 8:55 PM, but the festivities start around 6:45 PM. Shakira (no doubt shaking her hips) will be on hand to get things going, and Alicia Keys and Barry Manilow (will they have anything to say to each other??) are among the celebrities slated to be on hand. (The event, which features musical performances and endless banter, will also be televised on NBC-TV.)
Rockefeller Center is located between 47th and 50th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues. If you do plan on going, take our advice: Get there early, take mass transit, and be prepared to stake out a spot and defend it no matter what.
The tree is generally lit daily from early morning until about 11:30 PM; on Christmas, the tree will remain lit for 24 hours. It will remain on view until January 7.
The tree will be draped in five miles of lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star.
It’s heeeeere! The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has arrived.
The 76-foot-high Norway spruce, which belonged to fifth-grade teacher Maria Corti, was cut down in Easton, Conn. yesterday. It was transported to New York City on a special flatbed truck, and was hoisted into place this morning. (The tree generally travels during the night with a police escort; it usually takes 15-20 people and a 280-ton crane to handle the behemoth.)
The tree clocks in at more than 10 tons; it’s 40 feet in diameter. Minimum requirements say that the tree must be at least 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide; although between 75 and 90 feet high is favored. A Norway spruce is generally preferred (they’re not native to this country, but many were planted ornamentally), and if you were wondering, no money changes hands–it’s the pride of having your tree assume its place near the Prometheus Statue and the ice skating rink.
The tree will be covered in scaffolding as workers start adorning it–over five miles of lights are used to decorate the tree every year.
The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was erected in 1931 as workers were building the complex during the depression. First tree lighting? 1933.
The tree is located in the center of the plaza, at 50th Street and 5th Avenue. The official tree lighting is on December 2.
You may not have carved your pumpkin or basted your turkey yet, but wintry pastimes have already come to New York City: The Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink has officially opened for the season, with other rinks to follow soon.
Open from October through April, the rink first welcomed skaters on Christmas Day, 1936. At only 122 feet long and 59 feet wide, and able to hold (safely) only 150 skaters at one time, it probably packs more punch per square foot than any other ice skating rink in the world. (The rink is located between 47th and 50th Streets and 5th and 7th Avenues, in the middle of a maze of buildings. It accepts cash only; 212 332-7654.)
The rink offers skate rentals and lessons, and generally charges a premium for visitors to be able to say they skated at Rockefeller Center. (The big lure, of course, is to be able to say you skated near the Christmas tree, which makes its debut early in December.)
But the Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink isn’t the only game in town. There’s Wollman Rink in Central Park, which opens this Friday, October 23, for the season, and is located mid-Central Park (212 439-6900); and Lasker Rink, located at the very north end of Central Park near 110th Street (917 492-3857); the rink is scheduled to open on October 27.
With winter seemingly here already, can Memorial Day be far behind?
While you’re roaming around New York City’s Rockefeller Center, admiring the maze-like layout, becoming immersed in the hustle and bustle, looking for the perfect gift at one of the many shops, or gazing up at the famous statue of Atlas near the entrance, your mind is probably not on buying fresh-picked apples or perhaps a bushel of nectarines.
Perhaps you didn’t even know that such foodstuffs were available at Rockefeller Center, except perhaps tossed in with some exotic ingredients at one of the many area restaurants.
But wait! New York’s lively and well-known Greenmarket sets up shop at Rockefeller Center every Wednesday-Friday from now through September 4 (it started July 29), selling flowers, baked goods and of course, fresh fruits and vegetables, all sourced locally.
The Farmer’s Market, sponsored by Ocean Spray, is free and open to the public; it’s located at 50th street between 5th and 6th Avenues.
While you’re there, check out the underground concourse replete with stores and restaurants and pedestrian passageways. You can also find your inner nature child at the lush Channel Gardens; separating the British and French Empire buildings, they were named after the English Channel.
Of course, you can also just have a seat and munch on some fresh produce and have everyone stare at you enviously.