Rockefeller Center Christmas tree heads to Manhattan from Ulster County

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GARDINER – The normally quiet Town of Gardiner was a bustle Wednesday morning with large crowds of spectators from all over lining the street to see this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in its natural state one last time before it would be transported to New York City.
Albert Asendorf and his partner Nancy Puchalski, lifetime residents of the small Shawangunk town, donated the 78-foot-tall, 47-foot-diameter, 10-ton and approximately 80-year-old Norway spruce to Rockefeller Center.
Although the Asendorf family members were sad to see the tree go, they were glad to see it go to good use and provide a sense of pride to the people of Gardiner.
“A lot of the people you talk to, they almost seem more excited than I was,” said Asendorf.  “They were all giggling and stuff like that, that the tree is from here, from the area you know, a lot of them were like that. I mean you always see the tree down there and you never know where it’s coming from; now they know.”
Asendorf’s mother, Gertrude, said that she had purchased and planted the tree around 1957. According to the Asendorf family, the tree was a beloved part of their lives providing scenery and recreation to multiple generations of the family; however, Albert said that the tree was becoming overgrown, presenting a hazard if it potentially fell and that they didn’t want to just get rid of it, so, they reached out.
“We we’re going to knock it down and we figured, maybe, somebody might want it,” said Asendorf. “We went on the web, Rockefeller’s website there and they gave us the information, what you had to plug into the form and stuff like that and then, in last August, they came up and liked the tree and everything went downhill ever since, or uphill, however you want to say it.”

Dozens showed up to send off the tree

Giant boom placed the tree on a flatbed

Head gardener for the Rockefeller Center Erik Pauzer, who scouted the tree, said he knew immediately that Asendorf’s tree was the right choice.
“As soon as I saw the tree last year in August, I knew that I had to just come up and see that tree and when I came up, I got out of my car and I said, ‘Wow, that’s going to look awesome down at Rock Center’,” he said. 
Pauzer added that he had great experience in Gardiner and everyone was very helpful.
“Gardiner was a great town; I had a lot of fun here. I met a lot of great people that helped me out through the whole summer with watering the tree and feeding the tree and I met some great people with Al and his family and Nancy and her family and we had a lot of fun,” said Pauzer.
Since their beloved tree is making its journey to the city for thousands to see during the Christmas season, the Asendorfs have decided to plant another one in its place so their grandchildren’s grandchildren might be able to have this same experience for themselves.
The Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting ceremony, featuring the Asendorf tree, will be held on Wednesday, December 2 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Part of it will be nationally televised.