Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting gets a Lonely Welcome

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting gets a Lonely Welcome
The Christmas tree lighting in 2019, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Visitors eager to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree have to follow distancing norms and a five-minute viewing time

OT Staff
December 03 , 2020
04 Min Read

Who doesn’t like plucking a present off a decorated Christmas tree? But this year, the workers who put up the tree at the iconic Rockefeller Center plaza in New York in late November, found a surprise gift hiding among the branches.

The 75 feet tall evergreen Norway spruce had travelled almost 300 km, from Oneonta in upstate New York, to midtown Manhattan. Like every year, a team of workers had got ready to put up the tree and decorate it. After all, it is not only one of the most viewed decorated tree in the country, but also featured in popular Hollywood movies such as Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Elf, among others.

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As the workers got ready to set up the tree, they discovered a tiny owl hiding among the branches. Named Rockefeller (‘Rocky’ to some), the bird was identified as a Saw-whet owl (Northern Saw-whet Owl), one of the smallest of the species, which are common in forests across North America but highly nocturnal and seldom seen. This adult male was hungry and dehydrated when discovered by the workers. The bird was immediately handed over to the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center operated by wildlife rehabilitator Ellen Kalish from her home in Saugerties, New York.

While the news that the bird had been revived to health and released in the wild delighted many, visitors who had arrived to see the tree being lit on December 2 were highly disappointed. Unlike previous years, when the inauguration of the Rockefeller plaza Christmas tree was attended by hundreds of visitors, it was a no-go zone this year owing to pandemic containment rules. Despite the lighting up of 50,000 LED lights on this year’s tree, it was the loneliest welcome the tree ever met with.

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According to the Center, the Christmas tree will be lit and on display starting Thursday, December 3, through early January 2021 from 6 am to 12 am daily. However, there will be several rules in place, such as special tree viewing entrances and traffic patterns, tree viewing time limits, and masks and social distancing will be required at all times.

Meanwhile, media reports quoting Frontier Airlines said that the company has announced they will feature the tiny Rocky on a new Airbus A320neo aircraft tail.

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