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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.