The History of the Rockefeller Center Tree

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

On December 3rd, Superior Tours will take its annual trip up to New York City to watch the lighting ceremony of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Visitors will enjoy a day in New York City before joining the crowd surrounding the famed Christmas tree. As visitors watch as the giant tree illuminates Rockefeller Center, take a moment to remember the history of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.


  • 1931- The first Christmas tree was placed in Rockefeller Center by workers during the Great Depression. The workers erected the tree while waiting to be paid.
  • 1933- The first lighting ceremony was organized in Rockefeller Center.
  • 1942- During the war efforts, three trees were displayed rather than one. The trees were decorated in red, white, and blue to show support for the war efforts. This was also the first year that an announcement was made about the trees being replanted after the holidays.
  • 1944- Due to blackout regulations, the tree remained dark during the night. The following year, extra efforts were made to illuminate the tree.
  • 1951- NBC televised the lighting ceremony for the first time during The Kate Smith Show. Since then, celebrities have been featured as hosts during the televised ceremony along with musical performances.
  • 1971- This was the first year that Rockefeller Center recycled the tree used for the ceremony. This year, the tree was used to make bags of mulch. Other organizations that have found benefited from the recycled tree over the years include Habitat for Humanity, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts.
  • 1980- While the tree stood in Rockefeller Center, a man was seen trying to scale the tree. He was arrested by local authorities before he could reach the top of the tree.
  • 2007- Rockefeller Center changed the lights used for the tree to 30,000 LED lights. The energy saved during the switch was enough to power a house of about 2,000 square feet for a month.
  • 2012- A new star was placed atop the tree this year. A Swarovski star made of 25,000 crystals sat atop the tree. The star sits ten feet tall and weighs in at 550 pounds.


Superior Tours offers daily bus lines to New York City and Atlantic City. Tour specials are also offered throughout the year that includes special trips to New York, Maine, and Missouri. To learn more about the specials offered, visit our tour specials page.


Interested in the trip to Rockefeller Center? Make your reservation today by calling 1-800-754-9097, or visiting our contact page here.


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