The Praisners’ tree from Graham Terrace became the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center in 1976.
COURTESY MONTCLAIR HISTORY CENTER

By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

In November 1976, the people of New York City got a special gift from a Montclair couple, according to an article published Nov. 11, 1976, in The Montclair Times. 

Mr. and Mrs. Edward Praisner of Graham Terrace decided months earlier that their 65-foot Norwegian spruce had outgrown their property and that it needed to go, the article reads. 

But their son had grander ideas for the tree, which first served as the family Christmas tree in 1928 before being lovingly planted in their yard. It had grown so majestic over the years that in 1960, a neighbor suggested that maybe it could be repurposed as Montclair Center’s Christmas tree. 

By the mid-1970s the tree was encroaching on their porch and weighed 3½ tons. Their son, Dr. Robert Praisner, approached Rockefeller Center about taking it for its holiday display. 

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According to the article, people from the center visited Montclair to see the tree before picking it over 30 other offers. The article states that the tree was chosen due to its size, fullness and uniform shape, as the tree is viewed from all sides in Rockefeller Center. 

The tree was cut down on Nov. 22, 1976, and transported across the George Washington Bridge to Rockefeller Center. It took 10 days to string the lights, with the tree lighting held on Dec. 9, 1976. 

“After having helped brighten up the Bicentennial Christmas season, the tree was ground up and the mulch placed along paths in Watchung Reservation by the Boy Scouts,” the article reads.