Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lit Tues. night in NYC

(New York-NBC) Dec. 1, 2004 - Many Americans celebrated the beginning of the holiday season Tuesday night with the televised lighting of the gigantic Christmas Tree in New York City's Rockefeller Center, a tradition that dates back to 1931.

The tree has 30,000 bulbs in total and enough lights to stretch five miles, wrapped around the 71-foot Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Way up on top is the a 9.5 foot wide crowning crystal star, the biggest star ever to grace the tree.

This year's Norway Spruce is 71 feet high, 40 feet wide and weighs a whopping nine tons. It comes from Rockland County, New York.

Mack Troupe watched the ceremony, "There's just nothing like it. I mean, you can't see it anywhere else in the world but New York City." People from as far away as London, England, and Saskatchawan, Canada, said they started lining up early in the afternoon to get the best spot to watch the lighting of the tree.

Others said they came to see something else: entertainers like Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, Hilary Duff, Kenny Chesney and Clay Aiken. The tree was lit Tuesday night at 8:50pm EST after a special two-hour NBC holiday presentation hosted by Al Roker and Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell.

But, even in a celebrity-filled line-up the true star was the tree itself. The tree will be recycled after it is taken down. It will provide nearly three tons of mulch.

This year's tree will stay lit until January 6th.

updated 9:27am by Chris Rees