NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A massive Norway spruce has been lit up in an annual tradition that officially ushers in Christmastime in New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio flipped the switch Wednesday night to light the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree following a televised extravaganza that featured performances by Diana Ross and Tony Bennett.

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting Wednesday night. (Credit: CBS2)

As the switch flipped on 50,000 twinkling colored lights, the flashing lights of the NYPD had already been illuminating the area around Rockefeller Center for several hours.

Jake Kosack and his mom Donna, from Poughkeepsie, know it takes the best in the world to protect those there to witness the lighting of this worldwide symbol of the holidays. They were among the thousands who stood shoulder to shoulder in the cold as the NYPD screened them with a wand and searched their bags.

“It’s been comforting truly, I have no fear right now,” Donna Kosack told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.

“God bless the police, best task force in the world,” Jake added.

The following streets will be closed to vehicular traffic on weekdays from 5 p.m. until midnight, and on weekends from 1 p.m. until midnight effective Thursday until Jan. 7:

  • 49th Street between 5th Avenue and Avenue of the Americas
  • 50th Street between 5th Avenue and Avenue of the Americas

Officers will also be patrolling nearby landmarks such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and area subway stations.

MORE: Know Before You Go: Numerous Road Closures To Come With Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting

The 72-foot-tall tree is decorated with five miles of multicolored LED lights and a 900-pound Swarovski crystal star. Rockefeller Center has hosted the ceremony since 1931.

The 75-year-old tree was donated by a couple in Wallkill, 60 miles north of the city.

It will remain on display until Jan. 7. Then it will be given to Habitat for Humanity to help build homes.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)