Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting attracts thousands

NEW YORK (AP) – Thousands jammed into midtown Manhattan to watch the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio flipped the switch Wednesday night, illuminating the 75-foot-tall, 12-plus ton Norway spruce with 50,000 multicolored lights.

The 85th annual ceremony was televised by NBC and included live performances by Brett Eldredge, Leslie Odom Jr., Pentatonix, Train, Harry Connick Jr. and the Radio City Rockettes.

One notable absence this year was NBC host Matt Lauer, who was abruptly fired on Wednesday for “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a colleague.

The holiday tradition started in 1931. This year’s tree came from State College, Pennsylvania. After the holidays, it will be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

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