Is The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Real Every Year? 'Christmas in Rockefeller Center' Will Show the Tree in All Its Glory

New York City is a magical place in general, but it's charm increases exponentially during Christmastime. I might be biased since I'm a born and bred New Yorker, but there's nothing quite like feeling the chill in the air during a stroll in Central Park, viewing all the amazing holiday displays in the stores up and down Fifth Avenue, and — of course — going to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Every year, the giant holiday icon is plucked from obscurity (in a nearby tri-state area town) and put on display to shine on in the annual NBC special Christmas in Rockefeller Center , airing Wednesday night. And yes, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree has always been real.

It's been a New York City winter holiday tradition since 1933, when the first Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was a small 20-foot tree put up during the construction of the now-famous NBC plaza. Ever since then, the Norway Spruces that have been selected have gotten bigger and bigger — in 1999, the lucky tree was a 100-footer from Killingworth, Conn. This year's tree is an 85-foot tall Norway Spruce from Danville, Penn., at the home of Dan Sigafoos and Rachel Drosdick-Sigafoos. But how does this all work? I've got the answer to that question and more below.

Who Selects the Tree?

Rockefeller Center Head Gardener Erik Pauzé currently makes the big pick for the tree each year. He's had the job since 2010, which is when long-time Christmas tree hunter David Murbach passed away at 57.

Murbach, who worked as Manager of the Gardens Division of Rockefeller Center, held the responsibility for 26 years and took it very seriously. He looked for the perfect tree to adorn Rockefeller Plaza all year long — and sometimes even from a helicopter. "It is a tough job," he told the New York Daily News. "It's one in a million. You think that there are a lot of good trees around, but they're not perfect. We look for perfection."

What Goes on the Tree?

Since 2007, the lit-up spruce has been green — and I mean that environmentally. The tree is usually covered in tens of thousands multicolored light-emitting diodes (LED), strung on five miles of wire. These are way more energy-efficient than the old-school incandescent bulbs that used to be used.

Atop the tree is usually a gorgeous crystal-adorned star fashioned by Swarovski.

What Happens When It Comes Down?

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree traditionally stays up and shining until January 6. After that, the spruce is often recycled in a variety of ways. Since 2007, the tree has been cut into lumber and used in local houses built by Habitat for Humanity.

Image: David Giesbrecht/NBC