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CEA Member’s Tree Lights Up Rockefeller Center

Wilton 5th grade teacher's tree is centerpiece of New York City's holiday celebration.

Wilton teacher Maria Corti is officially a star, as far as her fifth graders are concerned, now that her 76-foot-tall Norway spruce has been chosen as Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree.

“I’m a celebrity.  They see me in a new light suddenly.  They’re very excited and proud – as they should be,” says Corti, who has been interviewed by local and national newspapers and TV stations.

“I’m very proud of this as well.  The true essence of Christmas is sharing and good will, and that’s what I try to encourage.  You feel it when you go down to Rockefeller Center.  People there who recognized me thanked me.  That tree gives a lot of joy to people.”

Click above to watch the Today Show chronicle Corti's story from the loss of her horse to the selection of her tree.

Corti has been down to see the tree many times, and watches for it every morning and evening on TV, since it was trucked away from her Easton home November 11.

The selection of her tree had to be confidential, but as Corti didn’t want her friends and family to miss the big event, she told them she was having an open house.   She told them not to bring any food or presents, just to dress warmly and come.  It left lots of people guessing.

They weren’t guessing for long, however.  They arrived to see many people and trucks, and even a crane, all busy wrapping, cutting, and preparing to transport the tree.  The tree was hydrated so branches would bend more easily, every branch was wrapped, and the entire tree was covered with an ace bandage and swaddled so it could be taken away.

Corti has been in her new home for less than a year.  Shortly after moving, she lost her beloved horse, which had been a big part of her life for many years.

“In a way, this tree and the activity surrounding it has been a nice distraction,” said Corti.   “It’s a beautiful tree and it has weathered many a storm.  It’s something to be shared.”

The tree was healthy, but approaching the end of its life, and it was dangerously close to Corti’s house.  Corti contacted Rockefeller Center on a whim and was overwhelmed when her tree was chosen from the many offered.

After the tree is removed from Rockefeller Center, its lumber will be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

For anyone interested in seeing the tree, it will be lit daily from 5:30 A.M.-11:30 P.M.; all day on Christmas (24 hours); and from 5:30 A.M.-9 P.M. on New Year’s Eve.  It will be on display until January 7th.

  1. Trisha #

    How wonderful that another Connecticut tree was chosen for this honor! I especially enjoyed the story from our local TV stations that reported Maria’s history of going into the city as a child with her grandmother every year to see the special tree at Rockefeller Center. You could tell from all of the publicity that she and her family were thrilled that a tree at their new home “fit the bill” and would be shared with so many people.

    January 6, 2010
  2. Gina #

    What a great story and a wonderful “teachable moment” for Maria’s students!

    December 31, 2009
  3. Corianne #

    I love seeing the tree each year in Rockefeller Center! Even more so, I like to try and get out to see where the tree comes from. I’ve lived in Connecticut for the past 9 years and have had the pleasure of seeing the many wonderful areas that supplied the trees! Thank you for sharing your beautiful tree with us! Did you tell your students about it?

    December 26, 2009
  4. What a beautiful tree. I was in the city today.
    The lights looked even better this evening.
    So proud of a tree that comes from Easton,CT.
    Merry Christmas to all.

    December 23, 2009
  5. T. Donati #

    It is very special to be part of the Christmas tradition in NY city. Happy Holidays to all the teachers still in the classroom and the retired teachers in CT!

    December 23, 2009
  6. LISA #

    I was fortunate enough to witness the lighting of this magnificient tree! What a wonderful experience – it’s something so special words can not describe. It made me feel like a child again

    December 23, 2009
  7. Wishing all teachers,CEA staff and families Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. Thank you for sharing the video!
    Stacie from Niantic, Ct.

    December 23, 2009
  8. Melissa Hillman #

    Happy Holidays and New Year teachers of Connecticut!!!! Be well.

    December 23, 2009
  9. Just wanted to tell Maria, I visited her tree on December 7 and it was magnificent. It must be a great feeling knowing her tree will live on in the memories of millions. I know it’s on my SD card.

    December 23, 2009
  10. Gloria Brown #

    The tree is beautiful, as is Maria’s story. Be sure to watch the entire video. Happy Holidays.

    December 15, 2009

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