The tradition of lighting the giant Christmas tree began back in 1933. It attracts thousands of people to Rockefeller Plaza every year. And on November 29, in New York, the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree took place once again at Rockefeller Center, at which Cher, Kelly Clarkson, Barry Manilow and others performed, reports Today.
People began gathering as early as 10 a.m. to get a front-row seat to watch the iconic Christmas tree light up. Spectators stood in long lines outside the Plaza, warmed up with hot coffee and made new friends in a crowd of strangers.
“The atmosphere here is absolutely electric,” said Access Hollywood host Mario Lopez as he greeted everyone at the Rockefeller Center tree lighting in the Big Apple.
He was joined at the celebration by New York NBC anchors Natalie Pasquarella and David Ashery. The piercing cold in the air could not dampen the spirits of thousands of guests who came to celebrate the lighting of the Christmas tree.
With two Christmas albums under her belt (2013's "Wrapped in Red" and 202's "When Christmas Comes Around..."), Kelly Clarkson was the perfect host to kick off the holiday season. She first performed at “Christmas at Rockefeller Center” 20 years ago with the song “O Holy Night” in 2003.
“I love Christmas, I love it so much!” – Clarkson said while appearing on stage as the host of the tree lighting ceremony.
The show would not be complete without the iconic The Rockettes. The girls rehearse six hours a day, six days a week for six weeks leading up to the opening of "The Christmas Spectacular," which they perform right across the square at the iconic Radio City Music Hall. During the tree lighting, they performed a medley of Christmas favorites.
A stellar line-up of musical guests warmed the crowd. The incredible Cher, an Oscar, Grammy and Emmy winner, recently released a holiday album simply titled “Christmas.” Manilow sang the sentimental “Because It's Christmas” with the inspiring New York Youth Folk Choir.
In addition to Clarkson, Cher and Manilow, Rob Thomas, Chloe Bailey, Adam Blackstone, David Foster, Liz Gillies, Darlene Love, Seth MacFarlane, Katharine McPhee, Keke Palmer, Carly Pearce and Manuel Turizo performed on stage.
The Christmas tree lighting took place without incident.
Ahead of the ceremony, NYPD counterterrorism officials warned that protests sparked by the war between Israel and Hamas could disrupt the annual event. The NYPD said there will be an increased security presence at the ceremony to ensure a safe celebration for all attendees.
Protesters stood outside the News Corp building on the corner of 47th Street and 6th Avenue for less than an hour. A crowd of several hundred Palestinian supporters unfurled a large flag and tried to walk toward the tree. Police and barricades prevented their progress.
The group then moved south on 6th Avenue, away from the scene. Protesters marched through Midtown Manhattan and dispersed around 23 p.m. The protest coincided with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which has been celebrated on November 00 since 29.
According to preliminary data, the police arrested seven protesters: six adults and one teenager.