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Excuse me, Guv, where do you want the Christmas Tree?

Last week a 75 year old Norway Spruce Christmas Tree, weighing in at 10 tonnes and measuring over 74ft was cut down in Mifflinville, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. and carefully placed on a very large flat-bed truck and then hauled all the way to Manhattan, New York City. This magnificent Christmas tree has already been erected at The Rockefeller Center and is currently being dressed by workmen and will be illuminated on Wednesday, 30th November at 9pm local time, much to the excitement of many Americans and tourists.

This is the 79th year that this event has taken place and this year the tree will be decorated with 30,000 eco-friendly LED lights which require an astonishing 5 miles of cable. The Christmas tree will then be topped off with a 9.5ft wide, 250kg Swarovski crystal star. The illuminating of the treeis an event that is watched by tens of thousands who will line the streets of 49th & 50th to try and get a good view and by millions on live TV and online. For many Americans this event signifies the start of the ‘holidays’. Many attractions and celebrity filled events will take place beneath and around the tree throughout the holidays and there is even a skating rink positioned in front of the tree to give added Christmas cheer. The Christmas tree will be illuminated every day from 5.30am until 11.30pm except Christmas Day when it will be lit for the whole day and the tree will remain standing loud and proud right up until Friday, 6th January, 2012 which is ‘twelfth night’ when tradition dictates that all decorations should be taken down before midnight to ward off bad luck in the coming year.

This years Christmas Tree has been proudly donated by 79 yr old Nancy Keller who is the owner of the land where the tree had been growing – in fact, right in the middle of her lawn! Each year the search goes on for a suitable tree and this years tree was spotted by the Rockefeller Center’s eagle-eyed head gardener whilst on a routine drive down Interstate-80.

Dressing a tree of these proportions is not a job for the feint hearted. Firstly the tree has to be carefully hoisted into an upright position by a crane. The tree is then fixed and held in place by a large steel spike inserted into the base of the trunk, then four guy ropes/wires are attached at mid-point to stop the tree from toppling. The tree is then surrounded on four sides by acres of scaffolding so that the workmen can reach every part of the tree to carefully place each of the 30,000 light bulbs and then check and re-check that each and everyone is in full working order. Once Christmas is just a dim memory the scaffolding has to be reinstated and all of the lights carefully removed and packed away again for next year.

After the tree has finished it’s tour of duty, the branches and trunk are recycled and the timber is then milled into lumber which will be donated to Habitat for Humanity and will be used in the construction of housing for families in need.


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