There is nothing more moving than when the holiday season officially begins with the opening night of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular! Due to the pandemic the show was cancelled last year, the first time in the production’s 79-year history. As I walked into Radio City Music Hall with my family and walked down the aisle, the enormous space was filled with Christmas music as the swelling organs played in the front side of the theater. I felt the tears well up and roll down my face as we made our way to our seats. I had missed this so very much and was so grateful to be in this place to ring in the holiday season with this New York tradition. I was especially thrilled to have both my daughters, now 28 and 19, with me—they had grown up on this show and they were excited as well.

The evening was beautifully begun with host Jill Martin, Knicks and MSG Network broadcaster and “Today” show contributor, who shared with the audience that there were a lot of tears of joy backstage, as the Rockettes and all the people connected with the show were so excited to be back. She talked about the Garden of Dreams foundation and shared a film explaining the charitable work it does year-round. Then the story of a young man, Garden of Dreams participant Dale Neyra, who had suffered with congestive heart failure, was shared and he came out and delighted the audience by playing the piano and performing an original song: a performance which garnered him a standing ovation. He had tears of joy and gratitude as he thanked the audience.

Sitting there in our second row, center orchestra seats—WOW!—I found myself tearing up quite often. As the show began, I recalled memories of bringing my two daughters there as children and realizing that they are now women.

What makes the Radio City Christmas Spectacular so unique and loved is the tradition it has set, where for the most part you know the numbers coming up and the costumes the fabulous Rockettes will be wearing. In the first number, “Sleigh Ride,” the Rockettes are dressed as reindeer and they are setting up to pull Santa’s Sleigh. When Santa came out, everyone went crazy! We all knew the words he was going to say and we were waiting to hear them. Santa says he’s coming to New York to Radio City Music Hall and then it’s time to put on the 3D glasses for the 3D video projected in front of us. As gift boxes seemed to fall off of Santa’s sleigh and into our hands, I saw both children and adults reaching up to grab them, smiling and laughing.

When the Rockettes perform “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” that synchronized tap dancing that we have all come to see is a tapping frenzy of delight.

One of my all-time favorite numbers at the Radio City Christmas Show is the “Nutcracker.” When Santa spoke about the tradition of the show and I heard the music, I literally started to cry, because of the beauty and meaning of what I was about to see. My oldest daughter, sitting by me, rubbed my shoulder and said, “It’s all right, Mommy.” As I cried, I said to her, “I just love this number.” Clara dancing with the animals is so gorgeous, graceful and comforting to watch.

Just the introduction by Santa of the next number had the audience shouting with joy and anticipation and no one was disappointed as the marvelous Radio City Rockettes performed with absolute precision timing in the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.” When that cannon flag shot up, as the soldiers locked arms and slowly and methodically fell, the audience’s level of appreciation rose to shattering levels. This was a moment we were all waiting for.

The Christmas Spectacular truly is a tribute to this great city and there is no number that does that better than “New York at Christmas” as the audience is taken on a sightseeing tour with the Rockettes on a Grayline bus. These ladies are gorgeous, spirited and adorned in dazzling holiday-colored costumes. One of the funniest dance numbers and one of the most beloved is “Here Comes Santa Claus,” in which hundreds of Santas seemingly exist around the world to make sure that everyone gets their presents. A new number called “Santa’s Workshop” has Santa’s helpers coming to get him and take him back to the North Pole. It’s a fun, happy number. Once at the North Pole and trying to create a special toy for a little girl, we are led into the ever popular “Rag Dolls” number, with the Rockettes as delightful, life-size rag dolls, dancing with perfectly coordinated moves.

In a number called “Snow” the audience is treated to the Rockettes in costumes that resemble snowflakes. It’s a stunning number. After that, I found myself tearing up again as the intro came for “Living Nativity,” which is the story of Christ’s birth and the three wise men coming to pay tribute to the newborn King. That music sends chills throughout my body and brings me great joy. This number was followed by “Christmas Lights,” which has everyone on the stage, the ravishing Rockettes and the other dancers who have performed throughout the production. There is nothing like the Radio City Christmas Show. It is a family tradition that thank God, has returned.

For more info, visit www.rockettes.com/christmas.

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