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Thousands turn out for Rockefeller Center tree lighting

Thousands watched the 80-foot Norway spruce’s lighting, which was from New Jersey and had survived Hurricane Sandy.

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Thousands watched the 80-foot Norway spruce’s lighting, which was from New Jersey and had survived Hurricane Sandy.

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped light the Rockefeller Center tree on Wednesday, an 80-foot Norway spruce that made it through Hurricane Sandy.

Thousands of onlookers crowded behind barricades on the streets that surrounded Rockefeller Center. A video screen was provided for those who did not have a direct line of sight of the tree, which was illuminated with more than 30,000 lights and topped by a Swarovski star.

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‘‘It makes me want to sing and dance,’’ said Zuri Young, 19, a nursing student from Queens who came several hours early with her boyfriend to watch the lighting for the first time. ‘‘I’ve heard a lot about it. I was kind of sick of staying home and watching it on television,’’

The tree came from the Mount Olive, N.J., home of Joe Balku. Balku lost power and other trees during the storm at his residence about an hour outside of Manhattan.

The tree was taken from his home in November. It had been there for years, measuring about 22 feet tall in 1973 when Balku bought the house. It’s now 50 feet in diameter and weighs 10 tons.

The lights were turned on just before 9 p.m. Wednesday in the 80th annual celebration.

People will be able to view the tree until Jan. 7. After its stint in the spotlight, it will be turned in lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

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