We Are Going to New York!

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A decades long tradition has a new wrinkle this year as a tree from Maryland will stand in Rockefeller Plaza for the first time in the 90-year old annual celebration.

Danita Elkerson

 

Members of the HCC community and the state of Maryland can consider themselves a part of history this holiday season.There had never been a tree from Maryland standing at New York City’s Rockefeller Center for the holidays until this year, when a tree from Elkton, Md. was selected on Nov. 4.

The 79-foot tall Norway spruce was raised in Rockefeller Center on Nov. 13 and will be lit on Dec. 1, featuring a Swarovski star containing 50,000 lights. You can view the tree every day until Jan. 1, but to see the tree while it is lit, you must visit between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m.

If you want to see a decorated tree like the one at Rockefeller Center but cannot make it to New York, visit the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C.

The tree will be lit on Thursday, Dec. 2 by the Speaker of the House, on the Ellipse in the nation’s capital. The lighting ceremony will be broadcast on Sunday, Dec. 5, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on CBS.

You can walk along the Pathway of Peace, located beside the National Christmas Tree, for free to view the smaller trees representing all U.S. states, districts and territories. If you are not from the area, see if you can find your state’s tree.

High school students created unique, hand-decorated ornaments for each tree, which is a great way to recognize visitors from other locations and help them connect with the area.

The National Christmas Tree will remain lit through the end of December, from sunset to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays. The tree remains lit until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Even when they aren’t donning vibrant and festive lights, trees are still a spectacular sight. As you walk between the buildings on campus to attend class or a meeting, you can observe the variety of beautiful trees. You can also visit the parks surrounding the campus, such as Wilde Lake Park and Cedar Lane Park.

There are serene lakes nearby with many gorgeous trees, as well. Lake Elkhorn and Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia Town Center are very popular and close to campus.

Not only are trees pleasing to look at, but they also elicit positive effects, and not just during the holidays. They can help us stay healthy, relax, ease anxiety and benefit the environment.

Here are some fun facts about trees:

– Trees can relax the body by calming the parasympathetic nervous system.

– They can reduce stress and worry by activating the hormone cortisone.

– Trees can help you think more clearly and maintain focus (Where was that tree before my exam?).

– When you feel sick, trees can improve your immunity and accelerate recovery.

– They shield us from the wind and sun.

– Trees can fuel our energy.

There are plenty of opportunities to engage with trees and experience their magical effects — just use your senses!

– Walk around a tree. This type of exercise can improve your vital stats by lowering your blood pressure, cortisol levels and pulse rate.

– Sit under a tree and meditate as you take in the colors and textures of the season.

– Observe a tree or several trees while you draw or write in a journal.

– Socialize around trees with others by going birdwatching or forest bathing.

– Hug a tree.

– Take pictures of a tree and notice the differences in the sizes, shapes and colors of the leaves and branches.

– Listen for the sounds around trees, like squirrels and birds rustling leaves while they move around.

– Take in the crisp, fresh smell of a tree.

– Dance by the trees.

– Take note of how some trees have fruit you can eat, but make sure you know what is edible (We need you to make it to graduation).

Nicknamed “The City That Never Sleeps,” New York City is always illuminated, day and night. 24-hour businesses, marquees, taxi cabs and — for the next five weeks — our Maryland tree, twinkling with Swarovski crystals, will keep New York sparkling this holiday season.

We are fortunate to experience the positive effects of trees just by walking around campus or visiting lakes and parks near our college. Best of all, our access to these beautiful trees is free, so find a tree and experience its positive impact on your well-being!