The 2023 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Has Arrived

This annual tradition continues to bring joy and good cheer.

Nov 22, 2023
The 2023 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Has Arrived | This annual tradition continues to bring joy and good cheer.

It’s beginning to look like Christmas in New York. That’s because the 2023 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has arrived just in time to begin the holiday season. The  80-foot, 12-ton Norway Spruce arrived in midtown Manhattan early on November 11, reported NBC New York.

This year’s tree made the almost 200-mile journey from Vestal, NY on the back of a truck bed AND was hoisted in place with a crane to a perch near the iconic ice rink.

The tree’s arrival was a festive celebration with crowds of people watching the tree being lifted into its holiday home. There were family-friendly activities including the Rock and Roll playhouse performing holiday favorites, decorating ornaments, and even a chance for children to write letters to Santa.

After the tree's arrival, it was decorated with 50,000 multi-colored lights and a Swarovski crystal star Tree topper, according to TODAY.

The Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be held on November 29 at 8 pm in a  televised event, hosted by Kelly Clarkson with performances and celebrities galore.

An annual tradition
Rockefeller Center has hosted a giant Christmas tree almost every year since 1931. The first tree lighting ceremony took place in 1933, even before the outdoor ice-skating rink opened which dates to 1931.

The first televised tree lighting ceremony aired in 1951 on “The Kate Smith Show.” Around 125 million Americans go to see the tree every year.

The Rockefeller Center tree is always a Norway Spruce and for 30 years has been sourced by the head gardener Erik Pauze. He said in an interview on, “What I look for is a tree you would want in your living room, but on a grander scale. It’s got that nice, perfect shape all around.”

“And most of all, it’s gotta look good for those kids who turn the corner at 30 Rock; it needs to instantly put a huge smile on their faces. It needs to evoke that feeling of happiness.”

In 2020, there was an adorable surprise when an owl was found to have stowed away in the tree. The saw-whet owl, nicknamed Rocky, was gently removed and rehomed in the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Hudson Valley, NY.

The 2023 tree
The 80-year-old tree was discovered in Vestal, New York, when Pauze saw it towering in the yard of Matt and Jackie McGinley's home, reported TODAY. Pauze was so taken by the tree that he walked up and introduced himself to the couple.
“In pulls a car, guy gets out. “My name is Eric, I’m the head gardener from Rockefeller Center. I’m here to look at your tree.’ And I was like, ‘No ... Do you understand how crazy you sound right now?’” Matt McGinley told TODAY.

Jackie McGinley did some research and found out that Pauze was truly the man who sourced the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. “I Googled him and realized, ‘This is legitimate,’” she  said.

“We thought they were dating a lot of other trees, that maybe ours would be considered. And then as the date got closer and closer, we realized that, in fact, we probably did have the Rockefeller Center tree.”

The couple decided to donate their tree in the hopes that it would bring happiness and cheer to others during this holiday season. “This is not about us, but it’s about being of service to other people, giving them that chance to go and make memories by the tree,” she said.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.