‘The house with the big Christmas tree in front’

The lights are turned on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree donated by the Rivnyak family of Shelton during the 2007 Christmas season.
The lights are turned on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree donated by the Rivnyak family of Shelton during the 2007 Christmas season.

Following is an edited version of the official Rockefeller Center-issued press release on the Shelton Christmas tree:

76-Foot Tall Rockefeller Center Christmas tree makes its way from Connecticut to New York City for the 2013-14 holiday season

Tree will be welcomed to Rockefeller Center on Nov. 8

A Norway spruce from Shelton started its journey Thursday to become this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Donated by the Vargoshe family, the tree measures 76 feet in height and 47 feet in diameter, is approximately 75-years old, and weighs approximately 12 tons.

John Vargoshe and his wife, Louise, settled in the quiet town of Shelton 22 years ago. They raised their sons Nathan, 15, and Noah, 12, in — as they call it — “the house with the big Christmas tree in front.”

As neighborhood lore goes, the tree was used by the home’s original occupants as a Christmas tree, which was then planted in the yard after the holiday — likely in the 1950s.

“People have always said the tree would be perfect for Rockefeller Center,” John Vargoshe said. “I always said if we hit the Lotto I would hire someone to decorate the tree. In a way, it is like we won the lottery.”

Arrives Friday in New York City

The tree will be welcomed at Rockefeller Center on Nov. 8, when a giant crane will hoist it into position in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Once the tree is in place, scaffolding will be erected around it and it will be decorated with more than 45,000 multi-colored, energy-efficient LED lights strung over five miles of wire.

Hundreds of solar panels atop one of the Rockefeller Center buildings will help power the lights.

Family: ‘We are very proud’

“The tree sits right in our front yard, so it will be a change when it is gone, but we are very proud to be one of such a small group of families who can say their tree became the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree,” Louise Vargoshe said.

“More people have been to space than have given a tree to Rockefeller Center,” said son Noah. “It is pretty cool to be part of such a small group.”

“Seeing the tree all lit up in Rockefeller Center — knowing it is our tree — will be awesome,” added son Nathan.

Swarovski star will top the tree

For the 10th year, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be topped with a crystal star from Swarovski. The 9.5-feet-in-diameter and 1.5-feet-deep star is adorned with 25,000 crystals and one million facets that will radiate over midtown Manhattan from its perch atop the most famous Christmas tree in the world.

The 81st Rockefeller Center Christmas tree-lighting ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The two-hour ceremony will be televised live, locally on WNBC-TV in New York from 7–8 p.m. and nationally on NBC stations from 8– 9 p.m.

A longtime holiday tradition

Rockefeller Center officially began the tree lighting-ceremony in 1933, when a Christmas tree was erected in front of the then eight-month old RCA Building and covered with 700 lights.

Since then, the tree lighting has become one of New York’s most popular events, attracting television audiences throughout the world.

Christmas trees in Rockefeller Center have ranged from 50-foot pines to 100-foot Norway spruces and have been viewed by approximately 2.5 million spectators annually. The decorations and lighting effects have covered a variety of colors and schemes, including one year when the tree was painted silver.

Spectators can view the lit tree each day from 5:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m.; all day (24 hours) on Christmas Day; and from 5:30 a.m.–9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. The last day to view the tree is Jan. 7, 2014.