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Documentary tells story of 2017 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

With a banner and a strand of holiday lights, the 75-foot Norway spruce heads onto U.S. Route 322 on its way to New York City’s Rockefeller Center on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Eric Porterfield is working on a documentary about the tree’s journey from State College.
With a banner and a strand of holiday lights, the 75-foot Norway spruce heads onto U.S. Route 322 on its way to New York City’s Rockefeller Center on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Eric Porterfield is working on a documentary about the tree’s journey from State College. adrey@centredaily.com

Up until a few weeks ago, Eric Porterfield had never walked the streets of a pre-dawn New York City. As it turns out, they get pretty crowded.

Porterfield hadn’t exactly selected a nondescript location for his early morning stroll. He was in Rockefeller Plaza, surveying the 75-foot tall Norway spruce that had recently arrived on the back of a truck, delivered fresh from a small neighborhood in the hills of State College.

This crowd around him was speaking Japanese, Chinese, Arab and a couple of other languages that Porterfield couldn’t identify.

“There was a guy standing next to me from Canada who had to pee for, like, two hours and refused to move,” Porterfield said.

All of this bodes well for Porterfield, his wife and business partner Kelly Green Porterfield, their media company BlueWhiteTV and pretty much anyone who had any lingering curiosity about what happened to that big behemoth of a tree they cut down along East College Avenue earlier this month.

The things that we pass every day in our lives can be important if we just took the time to see them that way.

Eric Porterfield

Air dates for Porterfield’s documentary,“The Tree that Visited New York City for the Holidays,” have been tentatively earmarked for Dec. 17 and 24 on Pennsylvania Cable Network, which means that Porterfield will be editing tree footage pretty much around the clock for the foreseeable future.

The finished documentary will touch on all aspects of the spruce’s journey — both literal and metaphorical — including the lighting ceremony to be held Nov. 29 in Rockefeller Plaza.

Porterfield, though, sees a grander fable hidden in the framework.

“The things that we pass every day in our lives can be important if we just took the time to see them that way,” Porterfield said.

In addition to creating original programming such as “The Obligatory PSU Pregame Show,” BlueWhiteTV also provides production and marketing services.

The Porterfields were working on another project involving the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society when they caught word about the Norway spruce and sensed an opportunity.

It brings a little bit of stardom to State College. Social media has been buzzing about our tree and I think people are proud to have something exciting and positive to share.

Kelly Green Porterfield

“It brings a little bit of stardom to State College. Social media has been buzzing about our tree, and I think people are proud to have something exciting and positive to share. I call it ‘our’ tree, I can’t be the only one who does that,” Green Porterfield said.

Call it whatever you want — the timeline is still incredibly tight. Copies of the documentary (available for pre-order at www.bluewhitetv.com) are scheduled to ship out during the first week of December, and the hunt for sponsors is ongoing.

All of that is really just a long-winded way of saying thank heavens the footage is looking good.

“Eric got some great footage of the tree crossing the bridge into New York. He stood in the dark, freezing cold for hours just waiting for the truck to pass,” Green Porterfield said.

The man is not destined to receive a reprieve from the weather anytime soon. Porterfield is busy prepping to shoot the tree lighting ceremony, and while he has no idea what the final edit will look like, there’s a better than average chance the camera might favor people over trees.

He may wake up at 2 a.m. thinking about trees, but Porterfield takes his inspiration from the community, in State College and abroad, that imbues that symbol with meaning each holiday season.

“This is a story about all those faces that I see,” Porterfield said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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