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America's Tallest Christmas Trees
From Washington State to Washington, D.C., these towering trees help make winter festive.
Quick: what’s green, at least 65
feet tall, stands in an iconic location, and gets lit up like a Christmas tree?
Yes, it’s the Christmas tree—one
of America’s tallest and perhaps its most-photographed—that hovers over New York’s
Rockefeller Center. This year, the tree will rise a whopping 74 feet into the
air and be
lit on November 30 with great fanfare.
When it comes to our cherished
symbols of Christmas, few towering, twinkling firs can rival Rockefeller
Center’s yearly display of yuletide cheer. But some of them succeed, at least
when it comes to height: America’s tallest Christmas trees can top 100 feet.
And they make for fun stopovers during the holiday travel season.
You’ll often find these trees in
unlikely places. For nearly 20 years during the 1970s and ’80s, for example, National
Enquirer owner Generoso Pope placed trees in excess of 100 feet next to the
tabloid’s offices near Palm Beach, FL. In
1979, Pope’s holiday tree reached nearly 120 feet tall and was promptly listed
in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Largest Decorated
When Pope died in 1988, so did
his tradition. But across the U.S., communities of all sizes continue to
celebrate by decorating the tallest trees they can find. Often these trees are
identified for cutting and purchased a year or more in advance, sometimes cut
at great municipal expense, and transported across the country on wide flatbed
Though tree decorators don’t
agree on which breed is best for public display, the experts at Rockefeller
Center claim the Norway spruce is unmatched—thanks to the dense, dark-green needles and branches that
droop gracefully over the pyramid-shaped body. The spectacularly decorated tree
in Manhattan’s midtown is always at least 65 feet high and 35 feet wide and,
some years, exceeds 100 feet in height.
These tall Christmas trees are
highly valued by civic party planners across the country, but not every mammoth
evergreen is destined to be chopped down and hauled away. America’s tallest living Christmas tree looms proudly over the picturesque grounds of Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene
resort, where each year visitors gather to enjoy a dependably white Christmas.
At 161 feet tall (and counting), it’s taller by twice than most city trees.
It’s so big that the star on top is more than 10 feet tall—larger than the tree
most people keep in their living rooms.
But snow is not a prerequisite
for staging a popular Christmas tree show. This year, two majestic
100-foot-tall white firs were trucked down from northern California’s Mount
Shasta to Los Angeles County and adorned with 10,000 lights and 15,000
decorations—apiece. The lighting ceremonies will include fake snowfall and real
fireworks. It’s not the most traditional of Christmas celebrations, but this is
Only the biggest cities can
afford to transport and maintain these giant firs, but size isn’t really the
point. Tree lightings represent “a moment of togetherness and true unity,” says
Alexandra Lewis, author of The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, “a
moment in which hope and happiness win out over bitterness or worry, when
togetherness wins out over partisanship.”