This evening was the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting and I wanted to attend. Say I did it and then never have to do it again. But I couldn’t find any helpful tips on how to manage the madness! None of my local informants (people in my office), had any advice either because none of them had gone (I guess the locals don’t go too much).
So- after braving the masses, I have decided to write my tips on how to successfully attend the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting.
- Take public transportation. This is so obvious but so necessary. Even with masses coming in and masses coming out, the trains don’t get that crowded! It is the only way to go.
- As soon as you arrive at Rockefeller Plaza, befriend a cop. They know everything and aren’t giving out information freely but will give it to you if you ask.
- Go to the entrance areas as advised by the cops. This year there were two entrances (I assume this is probably normal) on 47th and on 50th. Most everyone was going to the 47th because that was the first one. Unless there is no crowd at all, shoot for the 50th St. entrance. It will be less crowded. We lucked out getting one of the last locations where you could actually spot the tree (arriving at 5:30 when the events started officially at 7:00)
- Prepare yourselves with entertainment, food, coffee, layers of clothing and a very open and calm mind. I brought a back pack with extra gloves, hats, scarves, and Catch Phrase. Laura brought coffee, bagels and extra socks. While the Catch Phrase never made an appearance, the ability to listen to music through our phones was crucial since the party scrunched next to us thought it would be okay to sing carols in operatic voices for a solid hour. The open mind was very necessary when I was constantly getting poked and slightly molested by the bags held by the people behind me. They were shopping bags too. Sharp edges. But with the open mind I waited it out and when one group crumbled, we quickly moved out of shopping bag reach.
- Have coffee, but not too much coffee– there is no peeing allowed and no way to get out. If you do get out, there is no way to get back in. Bladders must be controlled.
- The way out is much easier than the way in (that is what she said… gross Lauren)– gates are moved so there is more access. I advise skipping over the closest subway stop and walking to the next one to avoid additional crowds. You might just be lucky enough to run into Jack McBrayer (aka Kenneth Parcell)!!!
Overall, it was a magical event. For some reason a few of the performances were done twice. Not sure what the point of that was- will be interesting to see it from the TV perspective. I was obsessed with all of the logistics involved- cops, security, city ordinances, celebrity entrances, moving Al Roker from location to location… eh, it is the event planner in me.
And although I stood for 4 hours and listened to the amateur carolers next to me, watched Justin Bieber perform 4 times (including the most horrific new rendition of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” WITH Mariah Carey), the sound of Tony Bennett and Carol King singing (even if they were just seen on the screen) and the actual lighting of the tree was so worth it. Completely magical. One of those, pinch me- I’m-standing-in-the-gorgeous-Rockefeller-Plaza-watching-the-famous-Christmas-Tree-Lighting-with-Justin-Bieber moments. It might even be worth doing again!