New York (AFP) The rock around the Christmas tree sounds different to visitors at Rockefeller Center this year, starting with the tree lighting party on Wednesday.
What was usually a chaotic and crowded tourist attraction during the holiday season was instead a masked, time-limited, and away from community due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The tree, 75 feet (23 meters) high from the Norwegian Spruce, was lit in an event that was televised but closed to the public. TV broadcasts used pre-recorded shows by artists such as Kelly Clarkson and Dolly Parton, and camera footage of streets around the tree showed them largely empty.
In the days after the lighting through early January, those who want to catch a glimpse of the tree must follow a set of rules.
The arena in which the tree is actually located will be closed to the public; Instead, there will be designated tree viewing areas in midtown Manhattan blocks on either side.
Visitors will join a virtual font, and they can receive text messages to notify them when it is their turn. At this point, they will be directed to specific pods, each of which can accommodate four people, to look at the tree. There will be a five minute limit to viewing the tree.
Of course, everyone will have to wear masks and keep a social distance. The entrance to the rink and the shops will be separate.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier this week that a restrictive approach is a necessary one. “The number of people who can approach will be limited. This is what we need to do to protect everyone.”
Workers at Rockefeller Center first laid a tree in 1931. It became an annual tradition that began in 1933. This year’s tree came from Oneonta in central New York.