Thousands gather for NYC Christmas tree lighting

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands are celebrating in the heart of Manhattan as they await the lighting of the 85-foot-tall Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

Performers for Wednesday night's live broadcast include Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Mariah Carey and Cyndi Lauper.

Seventy-year-old Patricia Donnelly, of Greenwich, Connecticut, was there watching the lighting ceremony for the first time in 20 years.

She was squeezed into a police-barricaded pen with her significant other, 74-year-old, Joseph Matkovich.

He declared the festive scene "a gift."

The tree lighting comes just hours after a grand jury decided not to indict a police officer in a man's videotaped chokehold death. Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled his planned appearance at the tree lighting to meet with elected officials and activists on Staten Island while citywide protests started to gather steam.