After a weather-related postponement, Morningside Park’s annual holiday event will take place on Saturday, December 10 beginning at 5:00 p.m. Revelers can head to 121st Street and Morningside Drive to enjoy festive (and free!) refreshments, including Starbucks hot chocolate, cider and donuts from the Morningside Park Farmers Market, and a variety of homemade cookies. As the tree-lighting commences at 5:50 p.m., a trombone quartet from Manhattan School of Music and the choir from Teachers’ College will perform.
Now, about that tree. It stands 50 feet tall, which Friends of Morningside Park says is the tallest holiday tree in any Manhattan park. As a point of reference, the tree at Rockefeller Center (not that that’s a park) stands 82 feet this year. But in years past, it’s been as short as 65 feet, and the first official tree put up at Rockefeller Center (in 1933) only rose 50 feet.
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While the evening is sure to be a spirited celebration, it hit a few snags during the planning process. Brad Taylor, President of Friends of Morningside Park, told us “We’ve lit living holiday trees in Morningside for over 20 years and graduated to this particular tree in 2020. [NYC] Parks estimates the tree grows between four and five feet per year. After doing all the work to bring power to the tree in 2020 and 2021, Parks let us know a few weeks ago that they didn’t have the staffing to be able to continue to string and take down our lights. Unlike their other installations, we purchase special LED lights that we use. It’s a very labor intensive job on a tree this size — Parks told us they usually just cut down the lights and discard them.”
The saving grace? A private donor stepped up in the fundraising department — allowing for NYC Parks to facilitate a permit for a private contractor who strung the lights (and will return in January to take them down). All’s well that ends well, and Taylor noted, “We are thrilled that working with Parks and our donor, we’ve been able to come to a solution that saved the tree lighting this year.”
No RSVPs are required — simply show up and get ready to bask in the glow of the holiday tree that almost never was!