NEW YORK -- The holly, jolly, best time of the year got a light-filled launch on Wednesday, when the towering Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was officially turned on.
The 79-foot (24-meter) Norway spruce, covered with more than 50,000 lights in a rainbow of colors and bearing a crystal-covered, 900-pound (400-kilogram) star, was lit in a midtown Manhattan ceremony again open to the public, in contrast with last year's virus-impacted event.
The lighting was televised on NBC and hosted by NBC "Today" anchors Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Craig Melvin. Among the musical performances were Harry Connick Jr., Norah Jones, Brad Paisley and Alessia Cara. The high-kicking Radio City Rockettes were also part of the celebration.
This year's tree came from Elkton, Maryland, where it stood for more than 80 years outside a family home.
The first Christmas tree was placed in Rockefeller Center by men working there in 1931.