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No Crowd, But Rock Center Christmas Tree Still Sight To See

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, now that the Rockefeller Center tree has been lit up.

But missing this year was the big crowd that usually watched the ceremony in person, CBS2's Ali Bauman reported on Wednesday.

With the flip of a switch, all 50,000 LED lights on this year's tree were turned on. The lights were turned off a short time later, but not to worry, for the tree will be lit again by Thursday morning.

Bauman met a few people on Wednesday night who will probably be first in line to see it. They came by hoping to watch the big moment up close, but were woefully turned away.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
(Photo: NBC)

The lead-up included several star-studded performances around the 75-foot Norway spruce, but the annual ceremony was without one major thing this year -- a crowd.

Usually, thousands of people pack Rockefeller Plaza to see the show, but this year it was closed to the public to adhere to social distancing protocols.

Hours earlier, police were closing off the streets and moving pedestrians away from the surrounding blocks, and were guarding the entrances all night to the disappointment of hopeful spectators.

"I'll come back tomorrow to see how it looks. I know it's gonna be beautiful," said Mayra Montano of Miami.

"We actually brought the kids here last year and they got to see the tree and go ice skating and it was wonderful and, unfortunately, we were hoping to have a similar experience this time," added Heather Ruark of Maryland.

MORE: Tickets Required To View Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, Changes Made To Other Holiday Traditions In City This Year

Crews took advantage of the empty roads to put down social distancing stickers. Visitors will have to stand in six-foot-spaced pods to view the tree once it opens back up to the public Thursday, and there is a five-minute limit once you arrive.

"We never saw it in person before," said Simone Jackson of Florida.

Even though COVID-19 is keeping the crowds apart this season, fans told Bauman they were just happy the holiday show went on.

"It's beautiful. It's a tradition. They've done it every year, so I think it's everybody's dream to celebrate Christmas in New York and get to see that monumental tree," Jackson said.

The roads will stay closed to traffic at 49th and 50th streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Starting Thursday, the tree will be lit from 6 a.m. until midnight every day through the new year.

Click here for tickets, wait times and more details.


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