NYC's Iconic Christmas Tree Survived Sandy

Just in time to be cut down and packed off to Rockefeller Center

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Nov 13, 2012 1:24 PM CST

(Newser) – The Christmas tree that will dominate New York's Rockefeller Center survived the winds of Superstorm Sandy that left a path of destruction in the New Jersey town where it grew. Owner Joe Balku, 76, learned that the 80-foot Norway spruce in Flanders had been chosen for the honor four weeks ago. Sandy hit two weeks later. Balku watched the tree, which weighs 10 tons and is 50 feet in diameter, as it swayed in the backyard. "I kept going outside during the night. I lost two trees, an oak and an evergreen, but the big tree was tied up for its protection," Balku said.

He lost power, but on the morning after the storm, the tree was still standing. The tree will be loaded on a 115-foot-long flatbed truck and erected at Rockefeller Center tomorrow. Workers will then string 45,000 lights on the branches. "It's a thrill of a lifetime to have the chance to donate the tree to Rockefeller Center and for millions of people to see it all over the world," he said. The 80th Christmas tree lighting will take place on Nov. 28.

Crews hoist the Norway Spruce from its base in Flanders, NJ, Tuesday. The tree will be this year's Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.   (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Joseph Balku stands near his 10-ton Norway spruce tree at his home in Flanders, N.J., Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Crews cut down the 10-ton tree.   (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
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