Story Behind 12 Famous New York Angels That Herald In Holiday For Nearly 70 Years
The Rockefeller Christmas tree isn't the only iconic symbol during the holidays in New York. 12 famous eight-foot angels have heralded in the season for nearly 70 years.
The winged, robed and haloed angels, holding 6-foot-long trumpets, have lined Channel Gardens every year since 1955.
76 Miles of Material
They are the creation of artist Valerie Clarebout who used 76 miles of material to create the beautiful display of angels that face each other and serenade everyone who walks by. Each angle consists of 75 pounds of aluminum wire and brass and hundreds of miniature, twinkling lights.
"She’s the only artist whose work is regularly installed and removed for a period of time,” explains Christine Roussel, archivist at the Rockefeller Center Archive.
Artist Becomes Angel in 1982
Clarebout returned to work on the famous angels every year until she passed away in 1982. A year before her death, she told the New York Times Christmas was one of her favorite times of the year.
"Since I was a child I had a tremendous feeling for Christmas quite apart from a religious holiday. And now, of course, every year I think of it as bringing the angels back to life."
Christmas Tradition Continues
The Rockefeller Center crew brings those angels back to life every holiday season. It takes them 10 hours to install and remove them each year. It also takes a few muscles. Each one weighs 50 pounds.
When not on display the 12 angels are well cared for. They are stored in a climate-controlled warehouse in New York City.