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The holiday season is officially here as Rockefeller tree is lit in New York

Posted at 11:08 AM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 14:08:23-05

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. (KERO) — It's one of the biggest tree lighting ceremonies in the world! The ceremony in the Rockefeller Center in New York dates back to the 1930's. ABC's Will Ganss has more on the changes this year.

The 88th Annual Tree Lighting in Rockefeller Center kicks off the holiday season, but this year, not a creature was stirring in New York City. Marking a break from tradition no spectators were huddled together to sing along with Tori Kelly under the tree.

A majority of performers were socially distanced in a big way. Kelly Clarkson joined in from Los Angeles and Dolly Parton from Nashville.

And to make sure no Christmas crowds attempted to rock around the Christmas tree after the big reveal lights stayed on for a mere 30 minutes on Wednesday.

In a normal year, up to 150,000 visitors come to check out the tree but as we all know 2020 is anything but normal. This year visitors will have to scan a QR code to join a virtual waiting list. When it's their time they can enter in groups of up to four, and see the tree for only five minutes to snap a quick picture or take a quick video. But even though a visit to the tree might look a bit different this year one thing remains the same: for more than eight decades the tree at Rockefeller Center has stood as a beacon of hope for New Yorkers and beyond.

The first tree put up in 1931 during the Great Depression. Construction workers pooled whatever money they had to buy a basalm fir and decorate it with tin cans and handmade garland. Now all these years later the tree's a little bigger and brighter but remains a symbol of hope all the same, especially in 2020.

This year's tree is a 75-foot tall Norway spruce. It's 45 feet wide and weighs 11 tons.

That's a lot of tree to take in in only five minutes but that's more time in Rockefeller Center than visitors will spend in Times Square this New Year's Eve. The annual ball drop is going totally virtual this year. No guests at all.