HOUSTON – The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was set aglow with 30,000 colored lights at a joyful ceremony Wednesday featuring children displaced by Hurricane Katrina, singer Harry Connick Jr. and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
With temperatures in the high 40s, crowds packed the midtown Manhattan plaza for the festivities, which were hosted by the "Today" show's Al Roker and "Will & Grace" star Megan Mullally.
Sheryl Crow, The Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Goo Goo Dolls were among those who performed during the two-hour event televised on NBC.
Jan Mallory, of Orlando, Fla., said she thought this year's tree, a 74-foot-tall Norway spruce from Wayne, N.J., was better than the one she saw a few years ago.
"I think it's absolutely stunning," said Mallory, who wore a Santa Claus hat for the occasion.
Among those at the ceremony were Amina Kased, 27, and her two sons, who were displaced from their home St. Bernard Parish, La., after the hurricane.
"We love New York City," said Kased, who was staying in a hotel.
The 9-ton tree was topped for the second year in a row with a crystal star. It will be displayed at the plaza until Jan. 7.
Formal tree lighting ceremonies have been held at the Art Deco plaza since 1933, but the first Rockefeller Christmas tree was put up two years earlier by workers helping to build the complex.