There is nothing that symbolizes the commencement of the holiday season more than the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. The Ceremony is always a fun event, full of pomp and celebrities.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began formally in 1933 when a tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month old RCA Building, which is now the GE Building. The Christmas tradition was enhanced in 1936 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza outdoor ice skating pond. NBC-TV televised the first tree lighting in 1951 on “The Kate Smith Show” and as part of the nationwide “Howdy Doody” television show from 1953-55.
The Christmas tree that adorns Rockefeller Center is usually a Norway Spruce. The director of the Rockefeller Center gardens prefers the tree be between 75 and 90 feet tall and proportionally wide. Norway Spruce that grow in forests don’t typically reach these proportions, so the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tends to be one that was planted in someone’s front or back yard. There is no compensation offered in exchange for the tree, other than the pride of having donated the tree that appears in Rockefeller Center.
Over five miles of lights are used to decorate the tree every year. Only the lights and the star decorate the tree. The tree is recycled and the 3 tons of mulch are donated to the Boy Scouts. The largest portion of the trunk is donated to the U.S. Equestrian team in New Jersey to use as an obstacle jump.
On November 30, 2004, Clay Aiken was part of the star-studded hour-long special on NBC celebrating the lighting the world’s most famous tree.
Co-hosts for the evening were Al Roker and Nancy O’Dell. Olympic Gold Medalist Sarah Hughes skated to Vanessa Williams who sang “Silver and Gold.”
Besides Clay, the musical lineup for the special included performances by Hilary Duff, Kenny Chesney, Tony Bennett, Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Chris Isaak, Michael Buble, Vanessa Williams, and The Radio City Rockettes. Chicago was the special house band for national telecasts.
Clay was dressed for cold weather in an overcoat, striped scarf and a black hat. Clay sang “Winter Wonderland” during the National broadcast, and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing/O Come All Ye Faithful” during the earlier hour broadcast that was only shown in New York.
At the beginning of Clay’s live segment during the National Broadcast, the audience sang “Happy Birthday” to Clay, as it was his 26th birthday. Towards the end of the show, Clay joined the line of guests, as they closed the show by singing the song, “Let It Snow.”
Clay Aiken fans were excited to see Clay as a part of this exciting evening. It was an excellent opportunity to be seen and for people to be introduced to Clay’s Christmas album. “Mary Christmas With Love.”