The iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City was brought to life on Wednesday night. This beloved holiday tradition drew crowds as more than 50,000 multicolored lights adorned the magnificent 80-foot-tall Norway spruce. Weighing in at 12 tons, this majestic tree hails from upstate New York. Its radiant glow comes from around five miles of LED string lights, accompanied by a shimmering 900-pound star embellished with 3 million dazzling crystals.

The lighting ceremony was made even more special with the presence of Mayor Eric Adams. Amidst the cheering throng, a chorus filled the air with the joyful melodies of “Joy to the World.” The grand opening night celebration also featured captivating performances by renowned artists such as Cher, Barry Manilow, Kelly Clarkson, and the Radio City Rockettes.

For over 90 years, the Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center has enchanted visitors from near and far during the holiday season. This year is no exception, as the dazzling display will brighten the New York City skyline from 5 a.m. to midnight every day until January 13. On Christmas day, it will remain aglow for a full 24 hours.

To ensure a smooth event, the police were vigilant in dealing with potential disruptions. The recent gatherings in the city, marked by activists drawing attention to the Israel-Hamas war, raised concerns. Protesters advocating for the Palestinian cause assembled near the News Corp. building, adjacent to the tree site. Despite their numbers reaching several hundred and displaying Palestinian flags, their efforts to disrupt the lighting ceremony were effectively thwarted by law enforcement. A small group attempted to push forward but were held back and unable to halt the festivities. Eventually, they changed direction and marched down Sixth Avenue.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time recent events have seen activism impacting New York City’s holiday celebrations. Just last week, another group briefly halted the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade by obstructing the parade floats on the street. The individuals displaying a “Free Palestine” banner were apprehended, allowing the parade to proceed as planned.

As we cherish the grace and beauty of the illuminated Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, it is important to remember the diverse perspectives and challenges that intersect with this cherished tradition.

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