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NEW YORK (AP) — With a flick of the switch, a 76-foot Norway Spruce officially became the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree after it was illuminated for the first time this holiday season in a ceremony that's been held since 1933.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned on the lights just before 9 p.m. Wednesday, setting off a dazzling 45,000 multi-colored LED lights and a 9 ½ foot wide Swarovski star that topped the 12 ton tree.
Adam Connery, 41, and his wife Kristy Connery, 37, from Tyngsborough, Mass., watched the ceremony on their first vacation to New York City.
"It's gorgeous, it's enormous," said Kristy Connery of the massive tree towering above the hundreds of thousands of people who gathered to watch the ceremony. "Christmas is my favorite time of the year."
The holiday event in midtown Manhattan also was watched by millions on television. The tree will be on display until Jan. 7, after which it'll be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.
Artists such as Mary J. Blige, the Goo Goo Dolls, Jewel, Mariah Carey and Leona Lewis performed.
Lamar Lakins, 37, a housekeeper from Queens, brought his wife, mother, 10 year old daughter Shanel, and newborn son to watch the performances and see the tree lighting.
He and Shanel danced together in the plaza during a performance of "Jingle Bells."
"I just love this," he said of the gathering. "It's just people out enjoying themselves. I'm definitely a fan of the holiday season."
The approximately 75 year old tree made the 70 mile trip to New York City on a tractor-trailer from its home in Shelton, Conn., last month.
Danbury, Conn., resident Mary Hynes, 60, declared the show to be "outstanding."
"The excitement of the crowd, the brilliance of the lights. It was great," she said.
"Today Show" personalities Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales co-hosted "Christmas in Rockefeller Center," which aired on NBC.
They dedicated the broadcast to James Lovell, 58, a married father of four and a sound and lighting expert who worked on the tree. Lovell was one of four people killed when a Metro-North commuter train derailed in the Bronx on Sunday. He was on his way to work on the tree when the accident occurred.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — It soon will look a lot more like the holidays at the governor's mansion.
The Christmas trees for the inside and outside of the mansion are arriving Monday.
The outside tree is a 30-foot blue spruce that was donated from the yard of Jose and Floetta Carrera of St. Peters.
Inside, the grand staircase will feature a gold- and burgundy-clad eastern white pine from Tannenbaum Tree Farm in Armstrong. Pea Ridge Nursery, near Hermann, is supplying trees for the parlor and library. The two parlor trees will feature a Victorian theme, and two in the library will have a musical theme.
A tree-lighting ceremony is planned for next Friday. Visitors also will have the opportunity to see the indoor Christmas trees during tours given that Friday and the following day.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri officials are looking for the next Christmas tree to decorate the lawn of the Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City.
The deadline to submit candidates to the state Department of Conservation is Sept. 30. Trees must be at least 40 feet tall, fully branched and donated. The owner of the winning tree gets a personalized thank you from Gov. Jay Nixon and an invitation to the tree lighting.
Submissions must include photos taken from several angles and distances, contact information and the location of tree through an online mapping service. Entries can be sent to the Department of Conservation in Jefferson City.