Rockin’ around the Christmas tree looks different for visitors at Rockefeller Center this year, starting with Wednesday’s tree lighting ceremony. What’s normally a chaotic, crowded tourist hotspot during the holiday season was instead a mask-mandated, time-limited, socially distanced locale due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tree, a 75-foot (23-meter) Norway spruce, had its holiday lights turned on in an event that was broadcast on television but closed to the public. The telecast used pre-recorded performances from entertainers like Kelly Clarkson and Dolly Parton, and camera shots of the streets around the tree showed them to be largely empty.
In the days following the lighting until the early part of January, those wishing to take a look at the tree will have to follow a host of rules.
The plaza where the tree is physically located will be closed to the public; instead, there will be specific tree-viewing zones on the midtown Manhattan blocks on either side.