NEW YORK – The tree at Rockefeller Center has a new look and it reflects America's holiday spirit this year.
Instead of the traditional red, white and green, this year's color trio is red, white and blue.
From calendars to clothing to key chains, retailers are selling all the season's hottest stocking-stuffers in patriotic hues.
"We are doing really well with accessories," said Carolyn Moss, fashion director at Macy's. "Scarves and bracelets and necklaces, beaded bags and accessory cases ... every one of our resources have red, white and blue items in their line."
Besides the ubiquitous flag lapel pins, the stars and stripes theme can be found on nearly every gift and at every price point. From Brooks Brothers' tasteful patriotic ties for $52.50 to their $8 striped watchbands to a Tiffany's diamond, sapphire and ruby pin for $2,100.
"I think for buyers there's an extra impetus because the patriotic message is very timely," Moss said.
Since Sept. 11 made patriots of even the most cynical citizens, Americana brands such as Polo and Tommy Hilfiger are hotter than ever, said Moss. "It's funny, they always feature a flag sweater. Even before Sept. 11, it was a best seller and it continues to go forward."
But besides clothing, a whole sleigh's worth of patriotic goodies have been rushed into production for the holidays.
Perhaps the most timely new item is a trivia game called Spirit of America from the two-year-old California toy company Funosophy. The gameboard is a map of the United States and the first player to reach the Capitol wins. Points are scored by answering questions about the nation's history such as "In 1620, the Mayflower landed in what state?" Answer: Massachusetts
"We wanted to make sure families would play together," said Funosophy's president and founder, Nancy Zwiers. "So we came up with some rules, like, players under the voting age can ask an 'elder statesperson' for help."
The game was conceived, then created — including all 1,500 questions and answers — by a handful of researchers in three weeks. And a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief fund.
"This is the kind of game we think can be a classic," said Zwiers. "Everyone is interested in learning more about America."
And of course a spate of Sept. 11 albums have hit stores in time for the holidays. America: A Tribute to Heroes, culled from the hastily organized all-star telethon on Sept. 21, is a two-disc set including such tunes as Neil Young singing John Lennon's "Imagine" and Bill Joel performing "New York State of Mind."
The music world has also put together equally star-studded pro-U.S.A. compilations, The Concert for New York City, United We Stand and God Bless America, among others.
For those who want to wax patriotic all year long, several calendars have been put together in support of America's fighting spirit. Cedco Publishing created the God Bless America wall calendar, featuring a flag every month pictured at such monuments as the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Birds of Freedom calendar, which spotlights military aircraft.
But the most prominent 12-month testament to the American spirit is Glory: A Celebration of the American Flag wall calendar. The cover features FDNY firefighter Rick Doran, who hoisted the first American flag up at Ground Zero, and features pictures taken by both professional and amateur photographers.
Kim Cox, spokesperson for Workman Press which publishes Glory, said the project was pulled together in two weeks.
"The photo editors had to physically sort through thousands of images," Cox said, "because our computers were down." The Workman offices are located just a couple of miles from the fallen Trade Center.
"We were all sitting around thinking, 'What can we do to help.' And we thought, 'Let's do what we do best.' So we made the calendar," said Cox.
The images picked are all of flags from around the country. In one, a man is putting the finishing touches on his lawn, which he's just dyed to look like the flag. The profits and royalties from the calendar will go to the 9/11 Neediest Fund and to The American Red Cross.
"We wanted to use images that conveyed how everyone felt at that time," said Cox. "These conveyed the emotion everyone was feeling, not just in New York, but all over the country."
The calendars and other patriotic trinkets have proved popular with retailers who are hoping the shopping public will find them equally enticing this holiday.
"I think people have a sense that this in an important time in our history. People are looking for ways to mark this event," said Funosophy's Zwiers. "It really is a red, white and blue Christmas. We do feel closer to our country."