From backyard to center stage: Rockefeller Center Christmas tree stands tall in spotlight

Rich Schultz / AP

Crews use a crane to hoist a 80 ft. tall, 50 ft. diameter, 10-ton Norway Spruce tree from its base at the home of Joseph Balku in Flanders, N.J., on Nov. 13. The tree was laid onto a flatbed truck and transported to New York City where it is this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

Rich Schultz / AP

Crews cut down an 80 ft. tall, 50 ft. diameter, 10-ton Norway Spruce tree that will be this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree at the home of Joseph Balku in Flanders, N.J., on Nov. 13. The tree survived the winds of Hurricane Sandy that left a path of destruction in this New Jersey town and left Balku without electricity for weeks.

A day ago Joseph Balku’s Norway Spruce stood 80-feet tall outside his home in Flanders, N.J. Today it is 50 miles away, the new holiday centerpiece of New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza (also home to NBC News). Over the next two weeks, the tree will be decorated with more than 30,000 multi-colored lights on 5-miles of wire. The 80-year old tree has added meaning, it has been dubbed a “Sandy survivor,” coming from an area affected by the recent storm that wreaked havoc across the Northeast. According to AP:

Balku says he watched the tree, which weighs 10 tons and is 50 feet in diameter, as it swayed in the backyard of his Mount Olive property. Balku says it had been bundled for protection. He lost two other trees and just got electricity back over the weekend.

The tree’s arrival in Midtown serves as an unofficial kick-off to the quickly approaching holiday season. This year’s tree-lighting ceremony will be held on Nov. 28, featuring Cee Lo Green and Mariah Carey (among many other talents).

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Richard Drew / AP

The 80th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is suspended by a crane in preparation to be raised at Rockefeller Center, on Nov. 14, in New York. The 80-foot Norway Spruce, donated by Joseph Balku, of Flanders, N.J., will be strung with 30,000 multi-colored, LEDs on 5 miles of wire, and topped with a Swarovski Crystal Star. The tree is scheduled to be lit during ceremonies Wednesday Nov. 28.

Andrew Burton / Reuters

The 2012 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is put in position by a crane and crew of workers outside Rockefeller Center in New York, on Nov. 14.

John Moore / Getty Images

Workers prepare the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree before standing it up on Nov. 14, in New York City.

Richard Drew / AP

The 80th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is suspended by a crane in preparation to be raised at Rockefeller Center, on Nov. 14, in New York.

John Moore / Getty Images

Workers prepare the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree before standing it up on Nov. 14, in New York City.

John Moore / Getty Images

Workers move the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree into position on Nov. 14, in New York City.

Andrew Gombert / EPA

A crane lifts the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City, on Nov. 14.

A tree that survived Superstorm Sandy has been transported and set up at Rockefeller Center. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

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Discuss this post

Poor Tree....survived the ruthless Sandy but not the Stupid human race....

    Reply#1 - Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:40 AM EST

    Thank you flora72 - so the poor tree was a "Sandy Survivor" only to be cut down?? What? I get tradition, I really do. Perhaps this is one tradition that we can do without? How much money and resources were spent on cutting the tree down, getting the tree to NYC and then placing it in the plaza? How much electricity will be used to light the thing for over a month? All the while people are still without the basic necessities of life because of Sandy - not to mention that the poor tree lived for how many years just to be cut down and looked at for a month. Sad...

      #1.1 - Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:36 AM EST
      Reply

      Go find your own tree! What a loss of a beautiful shade tree!

        Reply#2 - Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:38 PM EST

        What? It survived the storm, and we CUT IT DOWN??? ARE WE INSANE???

        For a month we get to watch it slowly die.

          Reply#3 - Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:45 AM EST

          Make a green tree from recycled plastic...not by cutting a live tree...c'mon people have some sense!

            Reply#4 - Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:11 PM EST

            Another question comes to mind... why did the owner let them cut the tree down in the first place? Must have offered him some serious money. I don't understand some people... a tree that survived a devastating hurricane and has lived for 80 years only to be "put to death" by chain saw. Boggles the mind! Seems to me that NY priorites are in the wrong place. There are people down there with their homes destroyed, or no power and they are more worried about getting ready for the holiday season. Makes no sense... this is truly a sad story and doesn't do much for putting me in the Christmas spirit. =(

              Reply#5 - Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:50 PM EST
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