A 79-foot Norway spruce from Elkton is on a journey to holiday fame.
This is the first time a Maryland tree has been chosen as the 2021 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
The tree was cut down Thursday, November 11, at the residence of Devon and Julie Price, and loaded into a tractor-trailer for the 150-mile journey north to Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. A special hauling permit was issued by the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA).
Five police escorts from each state along the way are traveling with the tree.
The 85-year-old tree arrived in New York on Saturday and will be decorated with 50,000 lights, five miles of wire and topped with a 900-pound Swarovski star ornament covered in three million crystals, according to rockefellercenter.com. The tree will be lit Dec. 1, the website states, and prominently displayed on NBC’s live “Christmas at Rockefeller Center” broadcast.
The tree picked by the Rockefeller Center was spotted early this year by arborist Erik Pauze, head gardener for the center, on a residential property in Elkton, according to an article in Rockefeller Center’s The Center Magazine. Pauze was at an local nursery to buy plants, and decided to drive around the area. According to the article, he spotted the tree and approached the Price family about making it the 2021 centerpiece for Rockefeller’s holiday celebration.
Planning for delivery began in August. Torsilieri Inc., the company tasked to deliver the tree to Rockefeller Center, coordinated with Maureen Mandich, of New York Truck and Permits Inc., to find the best route to transport the tree between Maryland and New York.
Mandich applied for a permit through MDOT SHA’s Motor Carrier Division so Torsilieli could transport the Norway spruce to the Rockefeller Center. The Motor Carrier Division staff used the Maryland One system, a one-stop shop for hauling permits, to process the application and the permit was issued November 8.
Mandich also reached out to Jennifer Jeffires of Cheyenne Pilot Cars in Brookeville. They identified a route that involved traveling southbound along MD 896 in Elkton to the Delaware border.
In New York, Mandich’s firm again handled logistics so the tractor-trailer can reach Rockefeller Plaza.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Mandich said. “It makes everybody smile. That’s why I love it.”
The Price family made the journey to New York early Saturday morning to watch the tree being lifted high in the air and carefully put in place.
Julie Price said family members were given the opportunity to help hammer one of the spikes holding the tree in place. Seeing their family’s tree standing in Rockefeller Plaza was special, she said.
“It was like – whoa – just a few days ago this tree was standing in our back yard,” she said. “It really looked amazing.”
Family members will return to New York for the official lighting event.
The 2021 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree weighs 12 tons and is 46 feet wide, according to the Rockefeller Center website.
The Christmas tradition dates back to the 1930s, when workers pooled their money to buy a 20-foot tree that was decorated with homemade items. Since then, it has evolved to an annual tradition, with the first tree lighting ceremony taking place in 1933, the website says.
In 2001, the tree was decorated in red, white and blue after that year’s terrorist attacks. The largest tree — at 100 feet – came from Connecticut in 1999. For the 1997 season, the tree was transported down the Hudson River by barge from Stony Point, New York.