The holiday display, lit at a Wednesday night ceremony, still includes a rainbow of colors. But this year the 84-foot-tall Norway spruce is sporting energy-saving bulbs, and an array of solar panels atop 45 Rockefeller Plaza will help power them.
Early revelers began gathering around the tree Wednesday afternoon, hoping to snag a good view of performances by such stars as Tony Bennett, Josh Groban and Ashley Tisdale.
"People are here from all over the world," reported . When the lights came on, it was like "magic, and it was like being a kid all over again," Monica Lovell of Virginia told Haskell.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Tony Bennett and the Radio City Rockettes helped flip the switch for the tree lights shortly before 9 p.m.
The 60-year-old spruce has been covered with five miles of wire and 30,000 multicolored bulbs known as light emitting diodes, or LEDs.
Using the new lights is expected to reduce the energy consumption of the holiday display from 3,510 to 1,297 kilowatt hours per day - a savings equal to the amount of energy used to power a 2,000-square-foot home for a month.
The rooftop solar panels installed to power the lights will become a permanent fixture to help offset the energy demands of Rockefeller Center.
Organizers are planning to recycle the tree by using it as lumber for Habitat For Humanity projects in New York, the Gulf Coast, India and Brazil.
The tree's topper can sparkle even without any lights: The Swarovski star is adorned with 25,000 crystals. It's almost 10 feet in diameter.
NBC broadcast part of the tree lighting event, which also included performances by Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Natasha Bedingfield, Sean Kingston and Taylor Swift.
This is the 75th formal at the Art Deco plaza in midtown Manhattan. While the first official lighting was in 1933, the first Rockefeller Christmas tree was put up two years earlier by workers helping to build the complex.