a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
Or...at least a good look at it in both the day and night time. We were downtown for a matinee showing of Wicked (which was some of the best theater I've seen in a long time. From the story to the actors to the costumes and set, it was all simply perfect) and decided to swing by Rockefeller Center on our way. We were promised a night viewing, as well, later.
It has never been a tradition of ours to watch the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. We aren't opposed to it, we just don't think about it. Every now and then, during our surfing of channels after Blue goes to bed, we'll stumble across a live event that the rest of the country has probably been glued to for hours. But more times than not, our TV barely moves off the PBS channel. (And really, who can argue with that? A channel that offers Curious George, Downton Abbey, Sherlock Holmes AND Genealogy Roadshow? Does it get any better? As an even more of an aside: my mom retired in November and her retirement party was hosted by one of the partners in her practice with her husband, who just happens to be the Director of Programming for our local PBS station here in Kentucky. I had a total fangirl moment. I think I fell just short of asking him to sign a body part. Nerd, party of 1...over here.) Um...anyway...the lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree has just never been a Christmas thing for me, at least not in the same way as other required watching like White Christmas and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. So, while I wanted to see it in person, I was completely unprepared for the towering awesome that is the Rockefeller Center tree.
I was also somewhat unprepared for the shear number of people who had the same idea.
If you are interested in a few odds-and-ends facts about the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, check out this list of 18 Things You Didn't Know About the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree from Thrillist. It's a quick read with tons of interesting tidbits that could win you a couple grand on Jeopardy. The 2014 tree was 90 years old, weighed 13 tons and traveled 155 miles to Manhattan.
If you would like to pay to have your photo taken in front of the tree, there is a handy little booth where a photographer is prepared to take your cash and your photo. It's a lovely shot that includes the trumpeting angels and the tree in the background. We skipped this photo op and just grabbed a couple quick photos of our own, trying to snap over people's heads but under their umbrellas.
The trumpeting angels flanking each side of the tree are also a Christmas special and simply exquisite, day or night.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Shana is taking an online photography course with a company called "iPhotographycourse.com" (for which there is also a Groupon. Do NOT pay the $900. Find the Groupon and pay $50). After seeing her NYC pictures next to mine, I immediately enrolled and began. It's 18 modules that (for me) take about 2 days to complete. If you are my mother, a similar retiree or someone without toddlers in the home, each module takes about 3 hours to complete.
By night, the tree, illuminated by the solar-powered LED lights and the glow from the little gold guy below, is just as breath-taking.
Naturally, we needed photographic proof that we were there....y'know, for our senile days which are bound to set in within the next decade.
The angels were pretty spectacular at night, too.
The lighted draping behind the angel is part of a display projected onto Saks Fifth Avenue, opposite the tree. The light show runs on a continuous loop all day, about every 5 minutes. Shana assumes they cut it off overnight but has never been downtown at that time to verify. The animation is set to music and features the Christmas themes of NYC, such as the Rockettes.
The light show only lasts a couple of minutes and it's easy to catch multiple times if you're strolling around Rockefeller Center away. My only tip is to not stop in the middle of the sidewalk to watch. Not only are you an annoying SOB in everyone's way, but you are probably more vulnerable to thievery as your mind is not on your money. We backed up against a building across the street and huddled together (which provides protection against pickpockets and cold, whipping winds).
One of the items on my long-expired 101 list (I'm working on a new one because my current list is out-of-date and, quite honestly, includes tasks that are just never gonna happen) was to ice skate at Rockefeller Center.
However...it is $27 per person to skate on this ice. And the line...oh...the line. It stretched up the stairs and around the corner of Rockefeller Center. They send out groups of X number of people at a time and you can skate for something like 15 or 20 minutes. So, you could easily be waiting 2+ hours to skate, especially at Christmas. You can purchase a VIP package, though, that allows you to skip the line entirely and go straight to the ice. That's $60 per person and includes a 90 minute skating session. Besides the fact that I could buy a lot with $120, I would also not be able to walk for a week after skating for 90 minutes. And it was raining. There is another ice skating rink not far from Rockefeller Center called Bryant Park. It's more affordable and more locally known. That was on our list but we skipped it because of the rain. I'm OK with not skating in Rockefeller Center. That to-do has no place on my next list.
Well, we're almost halfway there! I fully intend to be done by St. Patrick's Day!