Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Almost Destroyed By Hurricane Sandy
This year's Christmas tree at New York's Rockefeller Center will mark a special year for the city. For one, its lighting on Nov. 28 will be the 80th in New York City's history. But the tree will also be a reminder of the recent superstorm that tore through the city — and through the New Jersey town from which the tree originates. Until last Wednesday, the 80-foot Norway spruce lived in Joe Balku's backyard, which stood in Hurricane Sandy's path. "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, 76, said of the 10 ton tree, which was only about 20 feet tall when he purchased the home in 1973.
Balku lost electricity when the storm hit, and had to rely on two generators to power his home in the rural community located just an hour outside Manhattan, but the home — and the tree — fortunately sustained no damage. The tree has since been loaded on a 115-foot truck and successfully put up at Rockefeller Center earlier this week, where it will be adorned with 30,000 LED lights and crowned with a Swarovski star. "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," said Balku.