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Rockefeller Center tree has a bright future post-Christmas

Each piece of lumber made from a 2016 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree carries a commemorative imprint.
Each piece of lumber made from a 2016 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree carries a commemorative imprint. Photo provided

Today seems as good a day as any to consider the lifecycle of the average Norway spruce. Or one specific Norway spruce, actually.

Last month, a 75-foot tall tree was cut from a yard in State College belonging to Jason Perrin. It was lassoed, hogtied and driven off to New York City’s Rockefeller Center where it was festooned with all the trappings of the holiday season and charged with producing yuletide cheer and a steady supply of tourists.

Judging from the photos shared with the CDT by visiting Centre County residents, those duties were performed with gusto.

If you haven’t seen the spruce up close and personal, there are still a couple of weeks left before Jan. 7, when Rockefeller Center unplugs everything and the tree retires to a nice peaceful life on a farm somewhere (not really).

This is a spectacular tree that I know many people will enjoy this Christmas and holiday season, lit up in Rockefeller Center. I am also very excited that the tree will eventually become part of someone’s home.

Jason Perrin

In actuality, it will be milled into about 100 2-by-6-inch boards and sent to one of more than 1,300 Habitat for Humanity communities across the country.

“This is a spectacular tree that I know many people will enjoy this Christmas and holiday season, lit up in Rockefeller Center. I am also very excited that the tree will eventually become part of someone’s home,” Perrin said back in November.

Exactly where that home will fall on the map is still something of a mystery. Byran Thomas, director of public and media relations at Habitat for Humanity International, said that a decision should be announced in early 2018.

Your guess is as good as anybody else’s. Lumber from previous Christmas trees has found a new home — or been turned into a new home — in places like Pascagoula, Miss., Stamford, Conn., and Philadelphia.

Habitat’s partnership with Tishman Speyer, the owner and manager of Rockefeller Center, got its start right there in the plaza, where volunteers built house frames to replace those lost during Hurricane Katrina.

All of that was 10 Christmas trees and many newly christened homes ago. If it’s examples you crave, four of them are scattered along the same street in Orange County, N.Y.

They can appreciate naturalness and the recycling.

Cathy Collins

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh has gotten its hands on lumber from no less than three Rockefeller Center trees over the course of the past decade, including the spruce that rung in the New Year at the plaza after Christmas 2016.

“We just feel very blessed that we’ve been able to be the recipients for three years,” Executive Director Cathy Collins said.

A single tree can usually generate about two houses worth of lumber. Spruce is a soft wood, good for blocking or a decorative touch here and there, but load bearing is a task best left to trees unspoiled by show business.

Each piece of lumber carries the Rockefeller brand, which is inevitably obscured at some point during the construction process. According to Collins, even if the house’s new occupants don’t celebrate Christmas, they can still derive some pleasure in knowing where their mantelpiece came from.

“They can appreciate naturalness and the recycling,” Collins said.

For Habitat, it’s all just good PR, a chance to get their mission out in the public eye during a time of year where the concept of “giving” remains highly fashionable.

“It allows us to showcase the work we’re doing in the city of Newburg,” Collins said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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