Despite the Eric Garner protests that aimed to derail the event, tens of thousands flocked to Rockefeller Center for the 82nd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony this evening. Holiday performances from Mariah Carey, Cyndi Lauper, Pentatonix and more warmed up the winter night and continued the momentous New York City tradition.
Guests who came to enjoy the festivities were surprised to see police in protective gear all throughout Midtown Manhattan. Demonstrators hoped to #ShutItDown at Rockefeller Center tonight after a white New York City police officer was cleared by a grand jury, following the videotaped chokehold death of a 43-year-old unarmed black man named Eric Garner. The protestors shouted from the sidewalks and remained nonviolent, though some of the guests and children in the audience expressed fear in the chaotic atmosphere.
The show went on, with live performances from Cyndi Lauper, Billy Porter, Trisha Yearwood, LeAnn Rimes, Prince Royce, Darius Rucker, Pentatonix, Ingrid Michaelson, and The Rockettes. Additional performances featured Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Mariah Carey, Sara Bareilles, Seth MacFarlane, and Idina Menzel. Hosting the live NBC broadcast of Christmas in Rockefeller Center this year were Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, and Natalie Morales.
The chart-topping artists spruced up holiday classics with their own special twists, all leading up to the lively countdown. The crowd was wowed by the 90-year-old Norway Spruce selected for display this year, which is 85 feet tall and 46 meters in diameter, donated by Dan Sigafoos and Rachel Drosdick-Sigafoos.
Weighing approximately 13 tons, the massive tree is draped in 5 miles of multicolored lights, 45,000 total. Topping it off is a Swarovski star made of 25,000 crystals with one million facets. The lighting was met with oohs, aahs, and thunderous applause from the audience.
In an effort to stay green, all of the Christmas lights have energy-efficient LED bulbs. Spectators can view the tree at Rockefeller Center until January 7th. It will then be recycled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.