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Christmas Tree Lights Turned On At Rockefeller Center

PTI 01 Dec 2010, 12:56:36 IST
New York, Dec 1 : Tens of thousands of people gathered in New York's Rockefeller Center on Tuesday night to watch the lighting of the country's most famous Christmas tree, just days after a bomb scare at a tree lighting in Oregon.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped turn on the 30-thousand energy-efficient lights decorating the Rockefeller Christmas tree following performances by Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, British singer Katherine Jenkins, and teen pop star Charice.

Jessica Simpson has previously performed a duet with Petty Officer John Britt and they took to the stage once again on Tuesday.

"We did this thing called 'Truman Idol' and I chose him to come sing with me tonight and so he got to come about three weeks early and be with his family," Simpson said.

The 74-foot (22.5 metre) Norway spruce, donated by Peter and Stephanie Acton of Mahopac, New York state, will be on view until the January 7.

Peter, a firefighter and rescue worker on 11 September, 2001, when the World Trade Center was attacked, said providing the tree is his way of saying thank you to the city of New York.

"The people of New York were amazing to firefighters and the police officers. This is a great thank you to New York. It's a thank you to the people of the United States," Peter said, who appeared with his wife, Stephanie, and children, Seamus and Fiona.

"I haven't forgotten about that and I just ask that the rest of America doesn't forget about us and the guys that are hurting," he continued.

The event took place less than a week after the arrest of a 19-year-old Somali-American man charged in an alleged plot to blow up a car bomb at an Oregon Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland.

New York City police prepared for the sizable crowd by blocking off streets and urging people to use mass transit instead of cars to get there.

The annual tree lighting, in its 78th year, is a highlight of a season of wonderment for sightseers and exasperation for anyone trying to get to work. AP