NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s officially Christmas time – the Rockefeller Center tree is lit.

Holiday spirit was high, but so was security as tens of thousands attended the event Wednesday night.

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This year’s tree is a Norway Spruce from the Village of Florida in Orange County, New York.

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It’s the magic that holiday memories are made of in New York.

Thousands bundled up and packed in around the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

“A great tradition for New York,” Quinn Anderson of Mount Laurel, New Jersey said.

They marveled not only at 50,000 dazzling LED lights, but the flashing red and blue lights of the NYPD.

“I’m feeling secure,” tourist Gerry Ocol said.

“I feel very safe or we wouldn’t be here,” Dawn Zarwin of Philadelphia added.

K-9 units sniffed around the area where visitors were patted down. Officers with guns and on bikes provided peace of mind in one of the world’s most potentially targeted areas.

“The state of the world we live in, have to be careful and it makes us feel good there’s a lot of police presence,” Charlie Soldano said.

“I’ve been 100 times, I’m a retired police officer… security is much stricter, much more difficult to navigate the area,” former NYPD officer Steve Soldano added.

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has a problem with that. The controversy this year however, is the city’s plan to box out drivers with lane and street closures so pedestrians can more easily get to the 77-foot tall Norway spruce. The sidewalks are reportedly more packed than in season’s past.

“Took an hour to get here walking but worth it,” Zarwin added.

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Traffic is restricted in the area on weekday evenings and weekends into the new year.