Thousands of people usually gather to watch the Christmas tree's lights turn on, but this year the event was held during a private ceremony because of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions in place.
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The artificial tree is 83 feet tall and decorated with more than 33,000 energy efficient LED lights. On top of that, there are 1,100 ornaments.
Nine-year-old Make-A-Wish child Keira hit the switch to light the tree, as part of Macy's annual Believe campaign.
The few dozen people who watched the lights turn on said they were just passing by and didn't know about the event.
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"I miss the people and I miss the hustle and bustle of the city, it's not the same," said Frank Anderson, who was in Union Square shopping Wednesday night.
Charles Kim is the store manager at Macy's. He said that while it's tough to have a ceremony with no crowds, the annual tree lighting is a tradition that wasn't about to end.
"It's certainly bittersweet but we felt it was important to still move forward," said Kim.
Nearby cafes that were usually open during the lighting event remained closed Wednesday. Some businesses were boarded up.
A union strike happened outside of Macy's during the tree lighting ceremony. Protesters blasted their air horns and said they want COVID-19 gone and 2021 to start up.
The "Great Tree" in Union Square will be lit every night through the end of the holidays.
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