It’s official: the 2018-2019 Rockefeller Christmas Tree is on its way to Manhattan from Orange County. The 72-foot tall, 12-ton Norway Spruce was cut down on November 8 at the home of Shirley Figueroa and Lissette Gutierrez in the Town of Wallkill around 9 a.m.
According to Figueroa, it’s always been a dream of hers to grow a tree big enough to be displayed at Rockefeller Center. At her prior home, she fertilized a Norway Spruce with the hope that one day it would be big enough to be part of New York City’s grand display. Yet when she and her wife, Lissette, moved in June of 2017, she thought she would have to give up her dream. Then Gutierrez found a house with an even bigger and fuller Norway Spruce that had been on the radar of Rockefeller Center gardener, Erik Pauze, for years.
“The previous owner mentioned that the tree was in the running, but I just assumed it was a joke — or that Lissette had whispered to him to say that, just to convince me,” says Figueroa.
The Rockefeller Center selected her tree, thus fulfilling Figueroa’s longtime dream. After a ride on a 115-foot flatbed to Manhattan, the tree will live in its iconic new home in Rockefeller Center beginning on November 10.
On November 28 the Hudson Valley tree will have its debut moment at the 86th Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.
“The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is one of those symbols that brings people together — all races, ethnicities, religions — it’s something that everyone can enjoy,” explains Figueroa. “We are so excited that after the holidays, wood from the tree will be used to build Habitat for Humanity homes. It really does feel like we’re giving an incredible gift, first to New York, and second to the families who will move into the Habitat homes.”
Left to right: Lissette Gutierrez and Shirley Figueroa moments before tree was cut down
Photo by Diane Bondareff/AP Images