Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree comes alive with color

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Holiday revelers dealt with heightened security around Midtown Manhattan in order to experience the 86th annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on Wednesday.

The ceremony began at 8 p.m. and the 72-foot tall Norway spruce was lit at about 9:30 p.m. The tree burst alive with 5 miles of LED multicolored lights and a 900-pound Swarovski crystal star.

No specific threats were made against the evening's ceremony, according to police, but counterterrorism cops, rooftop officers, K9 teams, and mounted police were on hand.

Police advised the more than 20,000 people anticipated at the event to leave umbrellas, backpacks, and large bags at home.

A couple in Wallkill, New York, 60 miles north of New York City, donated the 75-year-old tree. It will be on display until Jan. 7. Then it will be given to Habitat for Humanity to help build homes.

Wednesday is also a designated "gridlock alert day."

Police closed 49th and 50th Streets to vehicular traffic at 1 p.m. Motorists can expect extra delays until midnight in midtown.