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Critics jokingly turned to Twitter to talk rubbish about the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree after it embodied every bad thing for 2020.

USA TODAY

There were no cheerful spectators walking around the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree this year.

The 88th annual lighting ceremony of the world’s most famous Christmas tree looked a little different on Wednesday without an audience in the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was far from a quiet night during NBC’s two-hour “Christmas at Rockefeller Center.”

While the usual crowd in downtown Manhattan was missing, some of NBC’s biggest stars were on hand, including “The Voice” coaches Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani and late-night host Jimmy Fallon, along with legends Dolly Parton and Earth, Wind & Fire.

“So many of the biggest names in music … they all signed up to help preserve our special holiday tradition for a year that was anything but ordinary,” the Today show and host MSNBC’s Craig Melvin, who co-hosted Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker with Today.

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And the lively temperature of 43 degrees did not prevent anyone from entering the festive spirit during the star extravaganza.

If you missed the joyous performances, the festive fashion and the colossal 50,000 light bulbs, don’t take the piles of sleds, because USA TODAY covers you. Here are the five best moments of the annual celebration:

Holly Dolly Parton duet

The duet of Dolly Parton and Jimmy Fallon is a mess we didn’t know we needed.

Parton and the host of the “Tonight Show”, dressed as the Merry Old Saint Nicholas, performed a digital duet of “All I Want For Christmas is You”.

“Well, I just love Jimmy Fallon, don’t I?” Parton, who appeared from Nashville, told Fallon on television. “Do you want to sing a Christmas song?”

The legendary country star returned later to perform “Mary, Did You Know?”

This is not the Voice, but it can be

Kelly Clarkson took social distancing to another level, appearing more than 2,400 miles away in Los Angeles. She performed her original song “Under the Tree”.

“Happy Holidays, everyone,” Clarkson said.

She was followed by Voice colleague Stephanie, who looked like a Candy Cane royalty as she sang “Here This Christmas” in a red-and-white striped dress and matching hat. Stephanie also appeared from Los Angeles.

“It looks like a summer picnic table in a good way. You’re going to Gwen!” tweet @ gavino13.

Stephanie’s complicated outfits didn’t end there. She directed Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” in her own pink dress, full of latex black gloves and pants, as she sang “You Make It Feel Like Christmas.”

Fans had strong opinions about her festive outfit. “She seems to have fought a bottle of Pepto Bismol and lost,” tweeted @ItsMeAshleyWee

As for Stephanie’s favorite Christmas memory? “I have to write a Christmas recording with Blake Shelton. It was just a magical thing to do,” she said of her work with her country music fiancé’s fiancé and colleague Glas.

Forget the snow – Bring Earth, Wind and Fire

There was no snow at Rockefeller Center, but there was Earth, Wind, and Fire. The legendary R&B band teamed up with Grammy winner Megan Trainer at Holiday.

Trainer looked like a present under the Christmas tree as he presented himself in a green jumpsuit adorned with a massive green bow.

“It’s a tribute right there,” Mario Lopez said during a special film prior to the premiere show.

Brett Eldredge congratulates frontline workers

Country singer Brett Elijah dedicated the show “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” to health professionals who continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic over the holidays.

“I honestly broke up before @bretteldredge started singing. Thank you for recognizing the front line workers,” tweeted @TheWhistlerHP.

@RealHollyWonder added: “Great gift for the front line workers! So many people who work with a high level of health work and so hard – thank you for the recognition of everyone who helps! And I liked the song!”

Melvin also acknowledged the health staff, “who work so tirelessly all year long to keep us healthy and keep us safe.” He added: “We are infinitely grateful.”

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

But the real star of the show was this year’s tree, a 75-foot Norwegian spruce from Oneonta, New York, which made a bad first impression after appearing less than regal when it arrived in Manhattan, New York last month.

“Could the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree look worse?” 2020 for a brand “, tweeted @RexChapman on November 17, referring to the uneven trees with protruding limbs and distorted shape.

Despite criticism, the wood did not bend in shape. In fact, he jumped on Twitter to defend himself. (Because it’s 2020 again, so anything is possible.)

“Wow, you all have to look great right after a two-day drive, huh? Just wait until my lights come on! I’ll see you on December 2nd!” Rockefeller Center tweeted on November 18th.

When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pressed the light button, the tree backed its praise, resembling a legitimate Christmas beacon with more than 50,000 colored LED lights and a 900-pound star made of more than 3 million Swarovski crystals. (Yes, you read that right.)

“We never doubted that,” Guthrie said, alluding to the controversy surrounding the tree. “She is beautiful!”

Peak 2020: Early Christmas merriment cheerfully crushed by the “saddest” tree at Rockefeller Center

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