|Trace Atkins at rehearsal.|
On NBC, it's known as the annual program, CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER, which will star country music singer Trace Adkins this year. The program, now airing in prime time, from 8 to 9 p.m., traditionally heralds the arrival of the holidays and features a good display of musical talent and the lighting of the world's most famous tree. This is the 15th annual national telecast, but the 80th year for the traditional tree, which was first decked out during the Great Depression in 1932.
This year's tree is an 80-foot-tall Norway Spruce, 50 feet in diameter, weighing approximately 10 tons. The tree is estimated to be about 80 years old.
The tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back to the Great Depression. First erected in 1933, the inaugural tree was decked with 700 lights and placed in front of the then eight-month-old RCA Building, now the GE Building. The Christmas tree gathering was enhanced in 1936 with the opening of the Rockefeller Plaza outdoor ice-skating pond. NBC-TV televised the tree lighting for the first time in 1951 on “The Kate Smith Show” and as part of the nationwide “Howdy Doody” television show from 1953-55.
Other stars this year include: Tony Bennett, Mariah Carey, CeeLo Green (NBC’s “The Voice”), Victoria Justice, Chris Mann, Scotty McCreery, Rod Stewart and Il Volo, and special appearances by Billy Crystal, Bette Milder and the Radio City Rockettes. Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie of NBC's Today show will host.
Note to New Yorkers: If you're not going to the tree lighting, stay away from Midtown Manhattan. It will be jam-packed with cars and pedestrians.