Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays To Everyone

This will be my last post for this year and it is intended to bring some joy and holiday spirit to all of you, my readers. Some of you live in the New York area and others have already or may one day visit this amazing city. For the rest of you, whether in near or far away places, I want to take you with me on a short tour of a place in mid-town Manhattan where we will see one of the most famous and well known symbols of this holiday season, the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Earlier this week, I went to Rockefeller Center with the intent of capturing some video for a live news report. Indeed, some of the footage will end up on the air but there was more and it struck me that I could share my visit with all of you. Think of it as my personal Christmas gift to all of you who followed me throughout the year.

When I arrived in the early afternoon, I found a quiet spot and took a short video of just the tree. I pan slowly in an effort to give you a sense of the height and girth of this magnificent Norway Spruce. It stands some 74 feet (23 meters) and is illuminated by over 30,000 LED lights connected by 5 miles (8 km) of wire and it has a 9.5 foot (2.9 meter) tall crystal star on top custom made by Swarovski. This 550 pound creation has adorned the tree top since 2004. There were hundreds of people continuously streaming through the entire area as you will see from this and the other videos.


Moving over to the rail overlooking the rink below, I captured the next video which shows skaters circling around and around. Early in the scene you will see the jolly old man in a red suit, Santa Claus himself, appear and skate over to the bottom of our view. Then he skates across the ice where he hangs around with people for a while, chatting, posing for pictures and carefully taking down gift requests, no doubt, from many young boys and girls - and perhaps a few adults, too..

Looking across the rink to the staircase on the other side you can see the line of people waiting for their turn to strap on the skates and float (or flop) around the ice. Beyond the stairs you can see the constant stream of people walking down Angel Ally, the entrance to the center from the Fifth Avenue side of the block.


As I move around to the opposite corner, the sun has gone lower in the sky and it is now dark. You can see the flags and decorative trees along the right side of the rink, the ice below being scraped and prepared for the next group of skaters, and the tree itself which is now fully illuminated. Note the famous bronze sculpture of Prometheus bringing fire to man at the edge of the rink below the tree.

Again, the slow pan should help give you a sense of the size of the statue and the tree. Also illuminated, you can now clearly see the magnificent crystal star high atop the tree.

From this point I turned and walked along Angel Ally, working my way through the mass of people arriving at what seemed an ever increasing rate. Dozens of people are taking photos and videos, and generally enjoying the experience of being here. The extremely mild weather helps, too. I have been here in past years when the temperatures were much lower, the winds were high and the snow was deep. None of that today!

Once I reached Fifth Avenue I turned around to take one more short video showing the large golden angels along the mall, the tree in all its colorful glory and the famous 30 Rockefeller building, home to the NBC network and inspiration for the popular sitcom "30 Rock." Although huge, the tree is dwarfed by comparison to the skyscraper. I've actually been to the top of the building for drinks and dinner in another famous New York landmark, the Rainbow Room.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour and many of the columns I have written this year. We'll return with more Views from the Bridge on Tuesday January 3, 2012.

Enjoy the holiday season. No matter what or how you celebrate, may it be a happy and healthy time in your life, and may the coming year bring you ever more joy and prosperity.

Merry Christmas !!  See you next year !! 

Captain Joe

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