Thousands gather for NYC Christmas tree lighting

Throngs of tourists and revelers packed midtown Manhattan on a warm night and under tight security to watch the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio flipped the switch just before 9 p.m., illuminating the 75-foot tall, 12-plus ton Norway spruce decorated with 50,000 multicolored LED lights.

“I definitely think it’s going to get the Christmas spirit going,” said Samantha Fettner, a 33-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who had been standing in the front with a group of friends since early afternoon.

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The 85th annual ceremony was televised by NBC and included live performances by Brett Eldredge, Leslie Odom Jr., Pentatonix, Train, Harry Connick Jr., and the Radio City Rockettes.

Matt Lauer was set to co-host the event, but the network announced Wednesday that it had terminated him for “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a colleague.

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