Rockefeller Christmas tree 2021 illuminated

The holly, jolly, best time of the year got a light-filled launch on Wednesday when the towering Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was officially turned on.

The 79-foot (24-meter) Norway spruce, covered with more than 50,000 lights in a rainbow of colors and bearing a crystal-covered, 900-pound (400-kilogram) star, was lit in a midtown Manhattan ceremony again open to the public, in contrast with last year's virus-impacted event.

The lighting was televised on NBC. Among the musical performances were Harry Connick Jr., Norah Jones, Brad Paisley and Alessia Cara. The high-kicking Radio City Rockettes were also part of the celebration.

This year's tree came from Elkton, Maryland, where it stood for more than 80 years outside a family home.

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Starting on December 2, the tree will be lit daily from 6 a.m. until midnight.  On Christmas Day, the tree is lit for 24 hours and on New Year’s Eve, it is lit from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The first Christmas tree was placed in Rockefeller Center by men working there in 1931.

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It will be donated to Habitat for Humanity at the end of the holiday season to be turned into lumber to build homes.

With the Associated Press

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

A view of Rockefeller Center during the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 01, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)