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Rockefeller Center Tree Brought From Wayne, New Jersey

Aired November 9, 2001 - 09:57   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the -- today's newest celebrities has its roots in a small New Jersey town. Today the 81- foot star arrived in the Big Apple. The neighborhood children in Wayne, New Jersey came out to say their good-byes. As we look at a live picture of said tree as it approaches its holiday home right there at Rockefeller Center.

In today's "Life Goes On" segment, CNN's Jeanne Moos has a Christmas story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches. Lovely enough to end up at Rockefeller Center, apparently. Though, at the moment...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: It looks kind of tied up.

MOOS: Ready to be transported 20 miles by truck from the backyard of Andrew (ph) and Kelly Tornabene (ph) of Wayne, New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just an honor to donate it, especially this year, with all that's gone on.

MOOS: A silent reminder: the hats. The Rockefeller Center folks search for the perfect tree in a helicopter.

(on camera): And do you know right away? Like, did you look down at this and say, aha!

DAVID MURBACH, HORTICULTURIST, ROCKEFELLER CENTER: Yes, my whole body lights up. I know it's the tree. And then, the next question is, are they going to say yes?

MOOS (voice-over): Andrew Tornabene (ph) had to think about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of about 2 1/2 seconds.

MOOS: (on camera): Now, did you get a twinge in your heart when you saw the first cut go into it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I saw it move -- when that tree moved on its own, I missed a heartbeat. MOOS (voice-over): Moments aft the 81-foot Norway spruce was lopped off, there was a stampede to the stump, where the kids practiced the inexact science of counting rings.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: How many rings?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Seventy-eight.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: It was 57.

MOOS: Imagine a couple of hundred neighbors, press people, and tree specialists traipsing around your backyard.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Actually, they knocked down their garage just to get the equipment in.

MOOS (on camera): Excuse me, but isn't there a Christmas tree parked in your former garage?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did that get there?

MOOS (voice-over): Actually, the garage was falling apart, and the Tornabenes were glad to get rid of it.

The tree was shared by the next-door neighbors, whose relatives came with another Norway spruce.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: They brought it to replace.

ANN RICCIARDI, NEIGHBOR: So maybe when I'm not here, but maybe the grandchildren, we'll have another Rockefeller tree.

MOOS: Folks snatched souvenir cones and scavenged for sprigs from the spruce.

MOOS (on camera): What are you going to do with it?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I guess I'll put it in my room.

MOOS (voice-over): But wait.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The owner said there's poison ivy in there.

MOOS (on camera): Hey kids, there's poison ivy in here!

(voice-over): What's a little poison ivy when you're itching to get close to a celebrity stump?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, Wayne, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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