Rod Stewart, Cee Lo Green usher in holidays at Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was lit in New York Wednesday night with a little help from Mariah Carey, Cee Lo Green and Rod Stewart.

They were among the stars who took part in the 80th annual celebration that also included performances by Scotty McCreery, Il Volo, Victoria Justice, Brooke White, Trace Adkins and Tony Bennett, along with appearances by Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and The Muppets.

Carey sang her hit holiday single, "All I Want for Christmas is You," as well as "Christmas Time is in the Air Again." Stewart, who's out with a new holiday album, performed "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Green sang "This Christmas" and "All I Need is Love" his new Christmas album, "Magic Moment."

Complete Coverage: Holidays 2012

Many artists performed live Wednesday night in front of the tree. Others, ncluding Carey, taped their tree lighting performances prior to Wednesday night. Still, Carey tweeted during NBC's live airing of the event:

Officials turned on the lights just before 9 p.m. Wednesday. The 80-foot Norway spruce that made it through Superstorm Sandy was transformed into a beacon of shimmering glory Wednesday when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others turned its lights on at Rockefeller Center.

Thousands of onlookers crowded behind barricades on the streets that surrounded the center during the traditional tree-lighting ceremony for the Christmas holiday season. A video screen projected an image of the tree for those who did not have a direct line of sight.

Illuminated by more than 30,000 lights, the tree from the Mount Olive, N.J., home of Joe Balku was topped by a Swarovski star. The 10-ton tree had been at the homestead for years, measuring about 22-feet tall in 1973 when Balku bought the house. Wednesday, its girth reached about 50 feet in diameter.

The tradition of a Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center started in 1931, when workers building the center put up the first one. No tree was put up the following year, and in 1933, the first tree-lighting ceremony took place.

People will be able to view the tree until Jan. 7. After its stint in the spotlight, it will be turned into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

  • CBS News Staff

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