How Rockefeller Center Chooses a Christmas Tree Each Year

This year’s iconic spruce comes from a backyard 170 miles away.

rockefeller-tree-choosing
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on TravelandLeisure.com.

From its humble roots as a backyard tree in upstate New York, a Norway spruce is set to become the 85th Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City.

Officials with Rockefeller Center are traveling 170 miles from Manhattan to Oneonta, New York, to chop down this year’s tree on Thursday.

The 94-foot-tall tree will be adorned with about 50,000 lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star, according to CBS News.

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center has long been a staple of the city’s Christmas season. Depression-era workers put up the first tree in 1931, and the first tree lighting took place in 1933, NBC News reported.

While a work crew will be required to cut the tree down Thursday and transport it to Rockefeller center by Saturday, one man is responsible for the operation’s orchestration: Erik Pauze.

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Pauze is the head gardener for Rockefeller center, and it is his responsibility each year to choose the right tree for the plaza. He accomplishes this task by visiting nurseries throughout the tri-state area while also keeping his eye out for one-of-a-kind backyard trees.

He and his team choose each year’s tree based on its heartiness and “Christmas tree shape,” as well as its ability to support the heavy ornaments, according to Rockefeller Center.

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“Most everything will thrive here if you take care of it the right way,” Pauze said, noting that the care of the tree and accompanying shrubbery is a tradition that he and his team take very seriously. “We’re very much carrying on what everybody intended.”

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The tree will get to New York City on Saturday, and the tree lighting will take place November 30. Dolly Parton, Josh Groban and Neil Young are among those slated to be in attendance.