Pop Culture

NYC's Rockefeller Center lights Christmas tree

New York City rang in the holiday season Wednesday night as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, with its 30,000 lights, lit up for tens of thousands people watching.

The ceremony featured performances by Neil Diamond, Cee Lo Green and Carol King. Justin Bieber and Tony Bennett provided pre-taped performances.

It was the first time at the tree lighting for 13 year-old best friends Emily Solomon and Carmela Civello.

"It was beautiful," they said in unison.

Though they were a bit miffed that Bieber's performance was prerecorded and shown on monitors, they said they were happy to be there.

"I'm ready to get my Christmas gifts!" Emily said.

The ceremony happened on a day President Barack Obama was in town to raise money for his re-election bid next year. The combination led to traffic jams across Manhattan.

The first Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was set up in 1931, and it has attracted crowds since then.

The tree is decorated with 5 miles (8 kilometers) of lights, and they will be on until Jan. 7.