Disney Loves NY

It’s that time of year again when all the tourists come to NYC to see some of the famous shows and decorations we have to offer for the holidays. This year seems to be the most tourist flocking season yet as everyone crowds around popular areas so tight that the locals are moving only an inch per minute. However, there are so many things in this city that’s worth seeing and should not be missed. So here are just some of the highlights of the holiday spirit that shines throughout the city.

Skating at The PondBryant Park has just about everything. Feel free to shop at the quaint holiday village, dine at an indoor/outdoor restaurant that provides outdoor heating lamps, take pictures of their grand Christmas tree and ice skate at The Pond right by the tree and restaurant with the Empire State Building overlooking the park. Admission to the ice skating rink is free. To rent skates is about $7 and an extra $3 for a lock for the lockers. This is the one area where people can spend their whole day in the heart of NYC.

Grand Central Terminal light showAlso, within the area you should visit is Grand Central Station. They also have their holiday market, perfect for holiday shopping on the go. The food courts below the main station have a variety of cultural foods ranging from American to Indian, from fast food to sit in, along side with newsstands, bakery and much more. But around this time of year, people come racing to grand central for two reasons: 1) to take the train home to see their families for the holidays and 2) to see the newest Kaleidoscope show grand central station puts on. Year after year Grand Central Terminal has had laser light shows on the ceiling. But within these last two years, they have expanded the light show from the ceiling to beautiful moving images on the walls all coordinated to holiday music. The show is every half hour from 11am to 9pm and it’s free to the public.

Lord & Taylor Holiday WindowFrom 42nd Street you can either go up or down along 5th Avenue. If you go down along 5th Avenue, you will come across Lord & Taylor on 5th Avenue. That’s a building you can’t miss due to the entire building being lit up with Christmas lights. Once the well-lit building allures you, hop on line to see the elegant Victorian Holiday window display. This year’s window shows the holiday spirit around the world during the Victorian era.

Macy’s Holiday WindowIf you go a little further down, before you know it, you are on 34th Street, a great spot to take pictures of the Empire State Building displaying the colors of the holiday season. You can take the tour and then continue onwards to Macy’s, the department store that set the standards as far as holiday celebrations. View their well-known window displays featuring this year’s theme of Santa’s journey around the world in one night. After that, feel free to shop inside and find numerous sales. As for those that have restless kids, don’t forget to treat them with a visit to Santa land and be able to meet Santa himself. If Macy’s and all of 34th street gets too crowded, journey a little further down to Union Square and their holiday market as well as their farmers market. The crowd intensity is much more subdued and you can still shop for your loved ones with a little bit more peace of mind.

Saks Holiday WindowIf you are traveling uptown along 5th Avenue from 42nd Street, you will be hitting the most popular and famous of all attractions in New York City. Walking along 5th Ave. from 42nd street, there’s not much to see visually until you hit Saks 5th Avenue. There you can view this year’s window display of “Snow People” from a children’s holiday book. Also, Saks is now notoriously known for their LED dancing snowflakes on the building. Go across the street from Saks to best view the snowflakes. Also across the street from Saks 5th Avenue is the famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Walk around the promenade to view the lighted angels and a closer look at the new LED lit Christmas tree. You can also take the time out to ice skate around the ice rink under the beautiful tree and right by the golden statue. Also within Rockefeller Center area are tours to the NBC Studios & Store, Top of the Rock and Radio City Music Hall where the Christmas Spectacular show is currently playing.

Bergdorf Goodman Holiday WindowHoliday sights and attractions don’t end there. If you still walk north of 5th avenue, you can still see stores like Cartier, Fendi, Disney and Bergdorf Goodman with their holiday window displays and lights that make 5th Avenue looks like it’s been covered in glittering diamonds. Also along 5th Avenue is the famous UNICEF crystal snowflake that hangs in the middle on the intersection on 57th Street. And on 59th Street on view is the 5th Avenue menorah right by the Plaza Hotel. On the west side of 59th Street is Columbus Circle where there is a holiday market as well as a visit to the Time Warner Building with their stars that light and change color to music. Also a few blocks north of the Time Warner/ Columbus Circle area is Lincoln Center. Currently playing at Lincoln Center is the holiday show “The Nutcracker” ballet as well as many other operas and shows currently playing. Also, Lincoln Center is showcasing their holiday spirit with a beautiful blue Christmas tree right by the fountain with snowflakes and music instrument ornaments on the tree.

Time Warner Building Holiday Stars

Hopefully this will help you on your holiday journey in and around our Christmas town. Maybe all the decorations will help you get more into the holiday spirit if you haven’t been feeling that much into the season. In any case, may every local and tourist have a great Holiday Season and much joy and prosperity to you in the upcoming 2008. Happy Holidays!

5th Ave Snowflake


The NutcrackerI love watching the New York City Ballet from the fifth ring seats, where you’re actually at the same level as the elaborate ball-shaped chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

It doesn’t sound like an appealing view, but from this lofty vantage point, I can see everything. I can see who really points their feet when in those spectacular arabesques and how those lines and patterns are actually straight when seen from above. I can see the vibrant colors in thier costumes. And most importantly, I’m the one who acknowledges the dance aficionados in the cheap seats with even a glance all the way up at the fifth ring.

It’s somehow amusing to me to watch the Snow Scene, in which realistic looking flurries gently drift onto the stage making the scene look magical. And I continue to marvel at the sure-footedness of the corps de ballet who fit across the stage with speed and confidence, leaving strange little footprints behind as if they were in real snow.

Sugarplum FairyIn the first act of Balanchine’s “Nutcracker”, the well rehearsed children from the School of American Ballet are amazing and always the real stars and they deserve special mention for their passion. Teresa Reichien makes a gracious Sugarplum. Her solo dance, which Balanchine places at the beginning of the second act, leaves a definite impression of a sparkly fairy, with such so intricate footwork, as if she were marking out a delicate, sacred ground for the festivities to take place upon. She presented a fairy with such warmth, and showed she is the queen. I am happy to report that her welcoming smile in the promenade around the stage encompassed the whole theater including the cheap seats. Fairy magic, though, was not just to be found at the feet of the Sugarplum Fairy. As Dewdrop, Megan Fairchild has not only crystalline and piquant technique but also a radiance that made the viewer sigh with satisfaction. Even from above and possibly the most unforgiving angle a dancer could ever been seen at, she looked perfect. And not just perfect, she looked lovely. Also notable were the impressively resilient jumps of Adam Hendrickson in the Tea divertissement, and the ever-courtly partnering of Stephen Hanna as Teresa’s cavalier. They look wonderful together and have the same feeling for the music and the gracious manners that make the pas de deux seem quite regal.

New York City’s The Nutcracker is as much of NY holiday tradition as pumpkin pie and a glittery tree with ornaments. Why don’t you round up your kids, your neighbors and your neighbor’s kids and take them all with you to see The Nutcracker.

By Sae Na Park (Korea)

November may be magical, but December in New York City is down right GREEN! Huh you say?… Yes, I said green! This years picture perfect Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has a “Green” theme. For the first time in 76 years, this elegant 75 year old, 84ft Norway Spruce represents an energy efficient reminder to all of us during this busy holiday season.

Firstly, the tree was cut down in central Connecticut by 2 men using a hand held saw, just like they did in the old days. Another green conscience decision was to adorn the mighty spruce with 30,000 multicolored energy efficient light-emitting diodes. These diodes or LEDs will reduce the displays electricity consumption from 3,510 to 1,297 kilowatt hours per day. The daily savings is equal to the amount of electricity consumed by a typical 2,000 sq. ft house in a month! The tree was illuminated in front of millions during a televised event on November 28 which has become a New York holiday tradition since 1933. Even more amazing, solar panels were placed on the roof of 30 Rockefeller Center to help generate the energy needed to illuminate the lights on the tree and surrounding plaza. Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes that using energy efficient means to light the tree will inspire millions of New Yorkers and visitors alike to make “greener” choices in their own lives. Finally, after the holidays, the green theme continues. The tree will be turned into lumber and used to build homes by Habitat for Humanity.

The Christmas tree tradition was born in the early stages of Rockefeller Center’s construction during the Great Depression. In December of 1931, construction workers placed a simple 20ft balsam fir tree amid the rubble of the future home of the British Empire Building. This first tree was decorated with strings of cranberries, paper garlands and tin cans. In 1932, there was no tree, but Radio City Music Hall celebrated the coming of the holiday season with its gala opening of the Christmas Spectacular.

The first official tree lightning was in 1933. This was the idea of Rockefeller Center’s publicist Merle Crowell, who made the first tree lightning one of the nation’s greatest publicity successes. Over the next seven decades, and to this day, with Radio City Music Hall celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center draws millions of on- lookers to awe, appreciate and enjoy the most beautiful and famous Christmas tree in America.

Here is a brief time line recognizing significant years surrounding the Rockefeller Christmas tree

  • 1931 – Construction workers place a 20ft balsam tree (smallest on record) amid the Rockefeller Center construction site. –
  • 1933 – This is the first time the tree is illuminated, kicking off a Rockefeller Center tradition.
  • 1936 – For the first time, two 70 ft Norway Spruce trees are displayed to celebrate the opening of the ice skating rink.
  • 1941 to 1943 – The tree is not illuminated due to black out restrictions during World War II.
  • 1948 – A 90ft Norway Spruce is displayed; the tallest tree ever at that time.
  • 1951 – The first time the tree lighting event is televised from coat to coast. Kate Smith flips the switch to light it up.
  • 1956 – The first time a White Spruce is displayed, it is 65ft high.
  • 1966 – A gift from Canada, a 64 ft white spruce is the first and only tree to be displayed from beyond U.S. borders.
  • 1970 -The first time the tree lightning is televised in color.
  • 1980 – A man is arrested on December 8th for attempting to climb the tree
  • 1996 – History repeats itself for the 2nd time, a 90ft Norway Spruce is displayed.
  • 1999 – a 100 year old, 100ft Norway spruce is displayed weighing in at a whopping 10 tons. A record is shattered with this being to date the largest tree ever erected at Rockefeller Center.
  • 2004 – For the first time in its 72 year history, the tree is crowned with a crystal star from Swarovski. It is composed of 25,000 crystals with 1 million facets. The largest star to adorn a Rockefeller Christmas tree
  • 2007 – The “Green” theme is introduced with energy efficient lights to promote a greener planet
Steve Duer has been captivating tour audiences with his unique, upbeat guiding style for over 18 years now while operating his own sightseeing company Marvelous Manhattan Tours NYC Inc.. In New York City, Steve is known as the “KING” of tour guides and his online reviews from past clients speak for themselves. His lively personal style bursts with originality for he is witty, knowledgeable, funny, and a natural showman.
Since 1990, Steve has hosted tours for American Express, Price-Waterhouse, Pfizer, Hormel Foods, Siemens, Hugo Boss, West Point Academy, and even the Disney Corporation. A seasoned professional, he has informed, humored, enlightened, and ultimately entertained ten’s of thousands of curious visitors from around the world. This enthusiasm for the city has spilled over into other related endeavors, including being a regular contributor to three family publications with a thought provoking column called “Duer’s did you Know?”. Currently Steve co-hosts a local travel show on award winning WVOX AM radio on Monday nights at 8:00pm. On Z- Travel and Leisure Steve does interviews, moderates discussion and engages in lively, informative ,humorous banter. Steve is also fully dedicated to pursuing a broadcast/travel reporting career in a TV related format.
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