Friday, November 9, 2007

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

On November 28th crowds will gather to witness the 75th annual lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. This year's tree is a 60-year old Norway Spruce, found in Shelton, Connecticut. In the last week local news outlets have waxed poetic about this year's selection, treating us to video of the tree being wrapped for transport - and cut down.

Am I the only one who thinks it's criminal to cut down a mature tree for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree each year? Sure, the trees are recycled, with the mulch going to the Boy Scouts and much of the trunk going to the U.S. Equestrian Center in New Jersey. But I still have a problem with the idea of cutting down a living thing just to make Rockefeller Center look pretty for the holidays. And what about the environmental benefits of these large trees? Why can't they use an artificial tree? Plenty of other cities in the U.S. put up 80+ ft. Christmas trees, and they're artificial.

Mind you, I love Christmas and decorating Christmas trees. Decorating the tree is one of my favorite holiday activities. When I lived in Tennessee, I often had two trees, a traditional tree (artificial) in the living room with the usual ornaments, and one of those kitsch aluminum trees in the dining room with vintage ornaments - including bubble lights - from the 40s and 50s. And I'll never forget the first Christmas tree we put up for the boys, decorated on Christmas eve after they had gone to sleep. The look on their faces on Christmas morning was priceless.

But back to my beef with Rockefeller Center's tree. New York City - and Mayor Bloomberg - like to make a lot of noise about how "green" our city has become. And it's true: compared to other large U.S. cities, New York does an admirable job with recycling and other manifestations of "green" public policy. So why not advocate the use of an artificial tree at Rockefeller Center and set an example for other communities on the issue of stewardship of our forest resources. No doubt many will think I'm wrong-headed about this. Indeed, one could certainly make a case against artificial trees because of the resources used to produce them. Just call me a "tree hugger." It simply comes down to the flawed idea of killing a beautiful, mature tree for Christmas. And I'd guess that most of the viewers who watch the lighting of the tree on NBC each year - or brave the horrific crowds on the plaza - wouldn't notice if the Rockefeller Center tree was real or artificial. Nor do I think they'd care.


One Wink at a Time said...

I am in complete agreement with you. I have an artificial tree that's gorgeous and very real-looking. Every year I have to prove to at least one person that it's not a live tree. I burn incense that smells pine-y to complete the whole tree experience. If I were to have a real tree, I would buy one I could plant afterward. We kill too many trees and waste too much paper. Someone called me a tree-hugger just the other day, thinking they were making fun... I took it as a compliment.

BooCat said...

I am glad to know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I remember a particular tree that I had actually enjoyed on the campus of Felician College in Lodi, NJ, when it was selected. I was horrified. Friends who lived down the block told me the tree was having problems, the nuns needed the money, etc., but I could only remember it in all its splendor when it was alive and well.
Is there no way that they could actually put a live tree into the landscape in the center and keep it alive all year? That would really be green.

Anonymous said...

Every year I am heart broken to see a beautiful old growth tree cut down, dragged miles away from it's roots and festooned with lights and for what?????
It is an annual reminder that we are unaware of our actions-totally living in a dream where we get to destroy and never pay the piper.


MrGS said...

I agree with everyone here; the artificial tree is the way of the future for Rockefeller Center.

Anonymous said...

one tree a year guys really? we're not all going to suffocate because one big tree is cut down once a year. how many big beautiful trees are out there anyways?
besides its tradition. it wouldnt be the same if they put up a fake tree every year.
and its not like we're hurting the tree's feelings. good grief its a PLANT.

but dont worry, i do my part. ive got a fake christmas tree too if it means that much to you.

just saying we should find better things to worry about

Wooded Hillside said...

I agree with all of you, except for the last "anonymous" poster. Actually, trees do have feelings. All living things do. There is no good reason why humans should be cutting down a 70+ year old tree for their own amusement and entertainment. It is cruel and unnecessary. A tree that old still has hundreds more years to live and grow.