Rockefeller Center Christmas
It's the tree huggers against the duck lovers.
Aficionados of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, weighing their love against the love that others feel for a humbler symbol of the season, Long Island's beautifully lit and decorated Big Duck.
Hey, it's the holiday. Does everything have to be a competition? Apparently so, now that both popular holiday totems are on such prominent annual display.
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The Manhattan tree huggers make their case first.
The tree is a global symbol of Christmas, they say, known and beloved the world 'round. Heck, the "Today Show" uses it for cutaways every morning. How do you get any bigger than that?
And this year, these Rocky boosters note, their 84-foot spruce is illuminated not by incandescent bulbs but by 30,000 eco-friendly light-emitting diodes.
Which would be nice, if the tree people hadn't just cut down this beautiful specimen with a saw (who cares if it's a hand-saw?), dragging the once-living creature into the middle of Manhattan, leaving it there to freeze and die.
How eco-friendly is that?
By contrast, Long Island's Big Duck neither lives nor dies. It just is - permanently. Now's that's ecological!
Twenty thousand pounds of reinforced concrete. Thirty feet long by 20 feet high. With red Model T taillights for eyes. Classy, huh? Draped in garland with twinkling lights.
The very embodiment of suburban American kitsch at any time of the year. But even more special now.
Why else are the crowds beginning to gather on Route 24 in Flanders?
Why else are adults telling children about Martin Mauer's old Duck Ranch - and how the Big Duck was just moved back home?
The duck is ours, that's what makes it special, homely and home-made all at once.
Who knows who that tree belongs to. Probably the world.
FORGET PLASTICS: "Composite materials" could be Long Island's future. EDO Corp., Northrop Grumman, Hofstra and state Sen. Dean Skelos are all scheming to attract a piece of this $35-billion (they hope) industry. The aviation and aerospace folks love the stuff. And remember, LI does have some experience in those fields.