NEXT STOP, ROCKEFELLER CENTER
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Graig and Angie Eichler’s 94-foot-tall Norway spruce is down and Rockefeller-bound.
“It’s such a great day,” said Angie Eichler. “A lot of people came out, and we’re having a lot of fun.”
Nearly 200 people gathered this morning on the lawn of VF Supply Co., Browne Street and Country Club Road, to watch the tree come down. At 8 a.m., the chainsaw revved up, and by 8:30, the tree was high in the air above the crowd before being slowly lowered onto a truck.
The truck will deliver the tree to the plaza in the early morning hours of Saturday, Nov. 12.
Bill Kramer, brother-in-law of Oneonta Assistant Fire Chief Jim Maloney, will assist in wiring the tree for the 50,000 multi-colored LED lights and a Swarovski crystal star, which will be lit during NBC’s annual “Christmas In Rockefeller Center” broadcast on Nov. 30.
Crew members from Rockefeller Center gave commemorative sweatshirts and polo shirts out to the crowd, and Mickaela Buzzy was selling commemorative ornaments made at Alpine Awards and Engraving.
“The Eichlers are friends of ours and they said we could sell them,” she said. “We came with 50, but they’re sold out now, so we’re taking orders!”
It’s the second-largest tree ever to grace Rockefeller Center’s world-famous ice rink at 45 Rockefeller Plaza. Every week throughout the summer, Erik Pauze, Rockefeller Center’s master gardener, came to Oneonta to put organic fertilizer around the base and to water the tree with as much as 1,500 gallons of water.
“Once it’s in the plaza, we keep it in a 5-by-5 (foot) container to water it,” he said. “On a warm day, it can drink up 90 gallons a day!”
But finding the tree, Pauze admits, was a chance miracle. “I was up here looking at a tree that had been submitted from Andes, and I was on my way to Morris when I saw this tree over Lutz Feed,” he said. “I made my way down Browne Street and there it was! I knocked, but the person inside didn’t answer.”
“I didn’t know who it was, knocking on my door on a Saturday afternoon, so I hid in my office,” Graig Eichler admitted, laughing. “It wasn’t until about 15 minutes later that I heard him talking to Angie.