Holiday spectacular lures families to NY tradition

Costume designer Emilio Sosa pose with Rockettes in the new costume for the 2018 Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Costume designer Emilio Sosa pose with Rockettes in the new costume for the 2018 Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Photo by Carl Scheffel/File

Timed to coincide for an opening when schools pause for the Thanksgiving Day holiday week, the annual Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular debuted its 2023 season recently.

The annual attracts students, teachers, parents and entire families eager to get an early eyeful before out of towners converge on New York City to complete their bucket lists in order to experience the reputed, alluring tourist attraction.

With up to five performances daily, 32 Rockettes seem to satiate the appetites of adults and children who cheer every kick and costume choreographed. And while the precision dancers are the main attraction, there are eye-popping bonuses to the spectacle.

Gebre Peddie, a benefactor of the recess from the Bronx school he is employed had never seen the annual. A transplant from Ocala, Florida, he scheduled attendance for the weekend opening matinee.

“I had no pre-conceived expectations but what I experienced went beyond any I imagined.”

Santa Claus’ entry to the acoustically-perfect showplace delighted the first-timer. He raved the parade of animals during the “Nativity” scene; marveled the “Dance of the Frost Fairies” as fairy drones hovered overhead, lauded the synchronized choreography, applauded the orchestra, the musical repertoire, the block-long, technical stage, the pair of organists, the ceiling videography and despite being tired maintained wide-eyed glee throughout the 90-minute production.

Stuntman/actor/filmmaker Roy T. Anderson shared similar sentiments adding that his mother who lives in Toronto, Canada might be enveigled to travel south for the unique showcase.

Anderson’s wife Alison who accompanied him could not contain her anticipation of each scene. She had attended a previous performance in 2021 and was determined not to reveal surprise moments.

Every year, shows are tweaked adding or subtracting to avert predictability. This year was no different, Alison admitted unexpected adjustments.

The show runs without intermission.

Youngsters seem awed by each presentation, some even standing throughout; adults appear enthralled but are not as well-behaved as their younger companions.

But that’s my opinion.



This year Cher will command the spot reserved for the most celebrated guest to join the bearded holiday gift giver on Thanksgiving Day for the Macy’s parade. The pop diva is billed to sing in front of Macy’s Department store on Nov. 23 after she completes the route from 81st St. to 34th St. waving and smiling at fans.

On past outings, Diana Ross has joined Santa Claus to usher in the Christmas holiday. Ziggy Marley did the same inviting his sons to join in on the coveted family annual where balloons fly over skyscrapers, marching bands provide rhythmic renditions to popular tunes and the Rockettes sample their high-kicking feat, while Santa Claus makes his first public appearance before regularly taking wishes from youngsters inside the store until Christmas Eve.

Brandy and John Batiste are also billed for the spectacle.

Check out the parade when it airs on NBC-TV.

Another aspect of the four-hour presentation is that Ray Chew maintains the baton as the musical director who annually combines renditions from high school and college marching bands, Broadway productions, to deliver hip-hop, reggae, pop, r&b, merengue, salsa, and a melage of other music styles on a day devoted to the kick-off of Christmas.

Chew is the musical director of “Dancing With The Stars” and former MD of “Showtime at the Apollo,” “American Idol” and music duo Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Most relevant is that his bride, Vivian signed Shabba Ranks to Sony Music and Third World to Polygram Records.


Perhaps the best ticket this month is free entry to Rockefeller Plaza on Nov. 29 for the lighting of New York City’s holiday tree. Distributed on a first-come basis, tickets will be issued to thousands willing to wait hours in order to witness the lighting of the 85-year-old, 80-foot spruce.

Reports are that the tree will be lit by 50,000 multi-colored lights.

A fun fact is that the tree consumes 900 gallons of water daily.

The free event is considered one of the highlights of the season. And although the exact time of lighting has not yet been released, in past years, the on switch has been activated as early as 9 pm. and as late as 11.

However, guests are being urged to arrive at the 30 Rockefeller Center address as early as noon to guarantee access.

A live television broadcast is slated to begin at 7 p.m., and includes performances by Cher, Keke Palmer, Barry Manilow and the Radio CityMusic Hall Rockettes.

The tree will remain lit all day on Christmas and daily from  5 am to midnight until Jan. 13 at 10 p.m..

Catch You On The Inside!