Rockefeller Christmas tree from Shelton ready to be lit

A towering Norway spruce from Shelton will be the star attraction Wednesday night during its lighting as the 2013 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

Tens of thousands will crowd the sidewalks for the event and hundreds of millions will watch live on TV when the tree from The Valley becomes lit with 45,000 LED lights.

The 81st annual tree lighting extravaganza will be broadcast on NBC-TV. 

Prior to the network special that begins at 8 p.m., WNBC, NBC’s New York flagship station, and other NBC stations will broadcast an additional live hour of the special, 7-8 PM.

The tree will be lit shortly before the broadcast ends at 9 p.m.

The program will feature musical guests including Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Goo Goo Dolls, Ariana Grande and Jewel performing current hits and holiday classics from Rockefeller Center.

For six decades, the tree stood in the front yard of the Vargoshe family on Kazo Drive.  John Vargoshe moved there in 1992 and married his wife, Louise in 1997. They have two children, Nathan, 15, and Noah, 12.

The tree was planted in 1953 by Otto and Susan Luchtenberg who decided get a “living” Christmas tree. After Christmas, they planted it in their front yard.

Sixty years later, the tree grew to a height of 76 feet with a trunk about 44 feet in diameter and weighing 12 tons.

On Nov. 7, it was cut down and trucked to New York City. The Vargoshe family traveled to New York City to say goodbye to their tree. The family also made an appearance on the “Today” show.

“We miss it already,” Louise Vargoshe told Al Roker. “Yesterday it was out of our front yard, but seeing it lit here at Rockefeller Center and letting the world enjoy it I think is going to make us feel good and give the Christmas spirit to everybody.”

“The tree was smaller back in 1992,” John Vargoshe said. “And when the boys were growing up, they had a lot of fun climbing it. And since it originally was a Christmas tree, I’m calling this the Christmas Tree 2.0.”

“After all the snow we had, trees were coming down all over, and this one was terrifying with all of that snow, too. They were thinking of taking it down, but I told them, `Before you do that, contact Rockefeller Center.’ ”

He said the family nominated its tree through the Rockefeller Center website, and it was soon accepted. Noah, the younger son, had a hard time saying goodbye to the spruce, according to his dad.

Noah wrote in his school newspaper: “Many Frisbees and remote-controlled helicopters got stuck in that tree. It allowed my bus driver to know where my home is located. This tree means a lot to me. I would always find cicada shells, look for birds, and collect its (pine) cones.”

Thinking about going to see the lighting in person? offers this advice:

“On the day of the tree-lighting, plan on getting there early to secure a spot with a viewpoint of the tree as there will be tens of thousands of like-minded tree-viewers; the most ambitious start positioning themselves as early as noon or 1pm. The tree-lighting ceremony begins at 7pm, though the actual lighting is usually just before 9pm. Above all, don’t drive — most of the streets around Rockefeller Center are closed off on tree-lighting day, so take public transport. A variety of trains will get you to the action: B, D, F, V to 47-50th St. Rockefeller Center; N, R to 49th St., 1 to 50th St., 6 to 51st St.”

The tree will remain lit until Jan. 7.

And after than?

The tree will then be milled into lumber that will be donated to Habitat for Humanity.


Jim Shay