By Della Hasselle
MIDTOWN — A star-studded lineup featuring Jessica Simpson, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow and Boyz II Men packed Rockefeller Center during the 78th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony Tuesday.
Thousands of New Yorkers and visitors filled the surrounding streets to watch those and other performers, including Josh Groban, Susan Boyle and Annie Lennox sing Christmas classics like "Blue Christmas," "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and "Let It Snow."
Spectators, some of whom had waited in their spots since 4 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show, were thrilled to see the talent on display.
"It was wonderful, wonderful," Inwood resident Ana Favares, 53, said. "It's so New York City. And I love Mariah — she's fabulous."
Sue Gregory, 35, who was visiting from the U.K., agreed.
"It was an excellent show, with such a nice variety of artists," Gregory said. "It made us feel very Christmasy. And it's good to get the community together."
"The crowds were too busy, though. We were too squashed," she added.
After the two-hour Christmas show, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gathered with the stars to flip the switch and light this year's tree, the 12-ton, 74-foot-tall and 40-foot-wide Norway Spruce donated by New York City fireman Peter Acton.
At the event, Acton, his wife, Stephanie, and his two daughters, Seamus and Fiona, 11 and 7, were excited to see the tree from their backyard in Mahopac, N.Y., lit at the official ceremony.
Acton said the tree was a "near-perfect example of how a Norway Spruce should present itself — it's symmetrical and it has the beautiful shape of a traditional Christmas tree — it's a scaled up version of the Christmas tree you would pick for your own living room."
Others agreed that, once lit, the tree gave the city a Christmas feeling.
"It's beautiful and amazing. I love the colors on top," upstate New York resident Camilla Rodriguez, 9, said once the ceremony was over. "I didn't expect to see as many lights as that."
The Rockefeller tree, which was first introduced in 1931, is now topped with approximately 30,000 energy-efficient LED bulbs, and a 550-pound Swarovski star that is comprised of 25,000 crystals.
"It's beautiful, it's awesome," Mexican resident Angelica Gonzalez said, adding that she had come all the way from southern Mexico to see the tree lit in Rockefeller Center.
"We will have to come back next year — it's so exciting!"