This 79-foot Norway spruce is located somewhere in Elkton, Md.—until Thursday. Photo: Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Tree Chosen from Upper Bay for the First Time

For the first time, the Christmas Tree that lights up New York City’s Rockefeller Center will come from Maryland.

Rockefeller Center announced last week that the 2021 tree was selected from Elkton, Cecil County, in the Elk River watershed. It is a 79-foot-tall, 46-foot-wide Norway spruce. It weighs 12 tons and is estimated to be about 85 years old.

The tree is being donated by the Price family, who live in the Glen Farms community, close to the Delaware border. The Glen Farms/Tara Civic Association says in a post that an arborist knocked on the Prices’ front door to ask about their Norway spruce, only later revealing that he was Erik Pauzé, the well-known head gardener at Rockefeller Center.

The family initially wavered about whether to give up their octogenarian tree, but as the civic association reports in a post, “initial reluctance eventually led to a decision to move forward – primarily due to the large number of these great trees that have been lost on the property over the years due to storm and weather damage or disease. With this tree at its prime – it made sense to allow it to go on the big stage and hopefully bring joy and happiness throughout the 2021 holiday season.”

Anyone can submit a possible tree candidate for donation to Rockefeller Center, simply by filling out this online form.

The tree will be harvested Thursday and hoisted by crane onto a 115-foot-long trailer. Then it will be trucked approximately 140 miles to New York City and arrive at Rockefeller Center on Saturday.

The tradition of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree goes back to 1931, when a group of Depression-era construction workers brought a tree to Rockefeller Center and decorated it. The first official tree was displayed in 1933, and since then, trees have been selected from many states near New York and even Canada—but not once from Maryland, until now.

The Christmas tree will be lit on Dec. 1, adorned with more than 50,000 multi-colored LED lights strung on an incredible 5 miles of wire. It will be topped with a star, of course, but this one is a 900-pound, Swarovski crystal star made up of 70 three-dimensional spikes and adorned with three million crystals.

The tree will be lit daily from 6am-12am. On Christmas Day, the tree is lit for 24 hours and on New Year’s Eve it is lit from 6am-9pm.

When the holiday season is over, lumber from the tree will be donated to Habitat for Humanity, traditionally in the state from which the tree came. The tree’s branches will be mulched and used in New York City gardens and parks.

Meg Walburn Viviano