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HomeColumnOur Proposal for Dealing with the Expected Rockefeller Center Tree Crowds: Lines

Our Proposal for Dealing with the Expected Rockefeller Center Tree Crowds: Lines

Our Proposal for Dealing with the Expected Rockefeller Center Tree Crowds: Lines

As a heads up: We’ve heard from the PR Firm behind the Rockefeller Center Tree and they’ve told us that details on the tree will come as soon as tomorrow.

Skaters gliding underneath the 2001 Tree.

With December fast approaching, Mayor Bill de Blasio has little to say about how the NYC will deal with the holiday crowds – namely, those expected to materialize around the Rockefeller Center Tree.

As we’d written recently, a tree from the town of Oneonta, NY has been chosen as the latest for Rockefeller’s Christmas Tree Lighting. An iconic tradition that’s gone back for decades and which folks near and far have looked forward to every year since.

Despite the lack of tourists, visiting from distant places, there’s sure to be plenty of New Yorkers out and about. One merely needs to look back at protests, rallies and gatherings to see how easily crowds can form in our city streets. This past Saturday, thousands flooded the streets in celebration of Joe Biden’s Presidential win. Yet on the following day’s evening, within an area equal to the span of a one block area, we could see hundreds congregating in Times Square for no reason at all – except to enjoy the lovely weather and take in the lights of the Great White Way. On nights since then the crowds have been smaller.

Here’s a 2004 photo of the tree at Rockefeller Center on the evening following the grand lighting in NYC.

With that in mind, it’s no secret that New Yorkers who’ve otherwise stayed away from the city’s visual attractions and landmarks are more inclined now to venture out with the absence of tourists. In year’s past we’ve visited the tree countless times in the days leading to and beyond Christmas day and without question the crowds have always been huge.

And so, at a time when the Mayor’s repeatedly gone on about trying to stave off a second COVID-19 wave we wonder if he’s truly aware of what we’re in store for.

We’ve been wanting to ask him about this for days now and unfortunately we hadn’t the chance to do so.

When asked about it yesterday, he steered away from an actual answer and veered toward indoor gatherings.

“I think again, the first concern needs to be making sure we do not have large indoor gatherings and that we get people wearing masks all the time. There really are not many major outdoor events at this point. But we’ll look again to see what’s out there and if any additional precautions are needed. But again, the key problem here is indoors and not wearing masks,” stated the Mayor during yesterday’s press conference.

Holiday Balls at Rockefeller Center

Today he was asked again, more specifically about the Rockefeller Tree and its supposed arrival. He spoke fondly of the childlike wonder that the tree’s lights instill upon him and how he wanted this special experience to be there for everyone in the midst of this crisis.

The Mayor reiterated his concerns over a second wave and how extra precautions would need to be carried out to ensure that there were just the right number of folks present at any given time.

We’re not sure what that means.

How can this be carried out?

What comes to mind are lines.

Rockefeller Tree being erected a few years ago.

Over the course of 9 days the city and its inhabitants managed extraordinarily well with early voting lines. Many of which stretched out for blocks and blocks. Some voters (including the Mayor himself) had to stand for hours just for the chance of electing our next president.

Might the city consider instituting a line for folks wishing to view the tree? It’s not so far-fetched. They could launch some sort of time reserved ticketing system followed by closure of the surrounding streets which is predominantly office space. A good portion of which we presume is underused if at all.

We suggested such an approach for Governors Island’s reopening long before they carried such a plan – and it’s worked brilliantly. The same thinking’s been applied to cultural institutions all around the city as well as to attractions like the High Line. The Vessel at Hudson Yards was already making use of such a system long before Coronavirus came along.

Mind you, the above is based merely on the chance that there’ll actually be a tree located within Rockefeller Plaza. We’ve still no clue. Everyone’s mum on the subject as is the presumed owner of the tree in Otsego County, NY who refused to give yours truly a hint.

But, IF things are going as expected (rather, presumed) then we think this to be a great idea! Further details to come tomorrow morning.

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