Workers prepare to raise the 2018 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a 72-foot tall, 12-ton Norway Spruce from Wallkill, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in New York. The 86th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremoN.Y. will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 28. (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer)

New York City's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree goes up

November 10, 2018 - 4:22 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is in place and will soon be strung with 50,000 LED lights as one of New York City's star holiday attractions — the gift of a same-sex married couple.

The 72-foot-tall, 12-ton Norway spruce arrived on a flatbed trailer Saturday morning and was hoisted by a crane into a spot overlooking the Rockefeller skating rink.

Crowds will gather Nov. 28 for a televised ceremony to see the tree burst alive with 5 miles (8 kilometers) of multicolored lights and a 900-pound Swarovski crystal star.

The 75-year-old spruce comes from Wallkill, 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of New York. It was donated by Lissette Gutierrez and her wife, Shirley Figueroa, from their home property. They nicknamed it "Shelby."

Millions of people are expected to visit the tree that will stay up till Jan. 7.

"Now it's not my tree, it's the world's tree; I'm so happy to be able to share her with everyone," Figueroa said at Rockefeller Center on Saturday. "Millions of people will come to visit Shelby."

Figueroa, 49, said she refers to the tree as "she" because "I felt she has a female spirit."

Also at the ceremony was Erik Pauze, the center's head gardener who cared for the tree over the summer, watering it and feeding it compost tea.

Figueroa said when she and Gutierrez bought their house, the previous owner said Rockefeller Center's gardener had his eye on the tree.

Gutierrez, 47, said she initially was reluctant to give up the spruce, but Figueroa convinced her.

After the tree is dismantled, it will be donated to Habitat for Humanity to help build housing.