Rockefeller Center's 80-Foot Christmas Tree Sparkles at Lighting

By Ben Fractenberg on November 28, 2012 4:24pm | Updated on November 28, 2012 10:39pm

MIDTOWN — The Rockefeller Center tree gleamed Wednesday night at the 80th annual lighting ceremony, which featured a pre-recorded performance by Mariah Carey and live performances by the Rockettes and Muppets.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg pressed a button to set the 80-foot tall Norway spruce aglow with 30,000 multicolor LED lights and a 9.5-foot-wide Swarovski Crystal star during the ceremony as Rod Stewart, Cee Lo Green, Trace Adkins and Tony Bennett also performed.

Thousands of people packed the streets around Rockefeller Center to catch a glimpse of the sparkling tree.

"This is the one thing you want to see when you come to New York," said Sia Abai, 35, who was visiting the city from California.

"I'm sure it's really pretty at night," added his girlfriend, Tiffany Benz, 26, before the lighting.

While people hoping to get a clear view of the stage needed to have tickets beforehand, screens were set up around the plaza for those who wanted to see the tree when it lit up.

The event also brought street closures around Rockefeller Center with 48th, 49th, 50th and 51st streets closed between Fifth and Sixth avenues starting about 3 p.m., police said.

The special tree made its journey to Midtown from Flanders, New Jersey on Nov. 14 after Joseph Balku, who moved from Hungry to the United States in 1956 at the age of 20, donated the tree.

"[The tree is] a reflection of the spirit and resilience of the New Jersey community," he said.

“I am proud to donate this tree,” he added. “It is beautiful and really should be seen by everyone.”