TODAY rang in the holiday season this morning with the arrival of this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, towering at 75 feet tall.
"If the cold temperatures didn't tell you what season we're in, well this sight certainly does," said NBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki, who was filling in for Weekend TODAY host Sheinelle Jones. The Norway spruce rolled into town with a spirited escort from TODAY's Dylan Dreyer.
Erik Pauze, Rockefeller Center's head gardener, spotted this season's tree seven years ago in State College, Pennsylvania. The 80-year-old spruce grew to holiday stardom in homeowner, Jason Perrin's backyard.
"I have to be honest, when Eric first knocked on my door, I didn't believe him," Perrin said of the moment he met Pauze in 2010. “After I figured out it wasn’t a prank, Erik told me my tree looked like it was tall and wide enough, and full enough, and he thought that in a few years it might be ready to be the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.”
Saturday morning that tree – having grown 10 feet since Pauze first saw it – arrived at Rockefeller Center.
Once the 12.5-ton spruce stands upright, it will be wrapped in more than 50,000 LED lights on around 5 miles of wire and topped with a 25,000-crystal Swarovski star.
"Close to a million people are going to see it on a daily basis," said pubic school teacher Perrin, "it kind of blows my mind in a way."
The 85th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place on Nov. 29, and the tree will light up the plaza until Jan. 7, 2018.
When the season passes, the beautiful spruce will serve another important purpose. NBC will donate the tree to Habitat for Humanity where its lumber will be used to build a home.