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Rockefeller tree glistens with 50,000 lights, 500-pound star

By Allen Cone
1/5
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree stands near the ice rink fter being lit Wednesday at the 86th annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/2e83677724f4a76b71ee1e539818c8c3/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree stands near the ice rink fter being lit Wednesday at the 86th annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Rockefeller Center in New York to watch two kinds of stars Wednesdy night -- the lighting of the massive tree and entertainers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio flipped on the switch to light the 72-foot tall, 24,000-pound Norway spruce during the 86th annual evemt.

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For roughly 75 years, "Shelby" grew in Wallkill, N.Y., until it was cut down on Nov. 8. Then it traveled 60 miles south to New York City.

Now around 50,000 lights adorn the tree. In addition, the glitzy, 550-pound Swarovski-crystal star that's become a yearly staple has been "reimagined" with a new look for 2018, according to NYC Go, the official guide of New York City. The new version has 3 million crystals, 70 glass spikes and a brightness of 106,000 lumens.

"You grew up seeing it on TV and it's just as beautiful in person," Jesse Hess, 41, from Minnesota, said to AM New York.

The Today show's Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Craig Melvin were joined by performers Diana Ross, Brett Eldredge, John Legend, Kellie Pickler and Pentatonix during the two-hour show broadcast on NBC.

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Approximately 750,000 people are expected to visit the tree every day through the holiday season until Jan. 7.

Then, it's used as lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

"Sometimes I visit a tree several times over the year, watch it grow or fill out. But when I see the perfect one, I just know it," Rockefeller Center's head gardener, Erik Pauze, told NYC Go.

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