MOUNT OLIVE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The Christmas tree that will dominate Rockefeller Center survived the winds of Superstorm Sandy that left a path of destruction in a New Jersey town and even its donor without electricity for weeks.
Joe Balku, 76, learned that the 80-foot Norway spruce had been chosen for the honor four weeks ago.
“Kept this very low profile,” he told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “All my friends knew about it, but everybody kept quiet, kept it off Facebook and everyplace so nobody knew what was going on.”
1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports
But then Sandy hit two weeks later.
Balku watched the tree, which weighs 10 tons and is 50 feet in diameter, as it swayed in the backyard. He said an oak and evergreen on his property fell during the storm, but the Norway spruce was left standing.
The tree will be loaded on a 115-foot-long flatbed truck and erected at Rockefeller Center on Wednesday. Workers will then string 45,000 lights on the branches.
“I’m losing a nice big tree,” he said. “But I’m very glad to be donating the tree and letting so many people see it.”
WCBS 880′s Sean Adams reports
Balku, who has never been to see the tree lighting ceremony, said he’ll be sure to be there this year.
“This time I will go to the lighting,” he said. “I think it’s pretty cool.”
Neighbors watched as the soaring spruce was cut down and hoisted by a crane.
“Well, we’re naming her Olive from Mount Olive. Olive is the name of the Rockefeller tree this year,” brothers Bennett and Jackson Tilvas said as they watched on.
The 80th Christmas tree lighting will take place on Nov. 28.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)