In 2002, it became known as the "UNICEF Snowflake" to help raise money for that organization.
The UNICEF Snowflake: A beacon of hope for the holidays
The UNICEF Snowflake is a dazzling, illuminated crystal ornament that graces the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York City each holiday season as a beacon of hope, peace and compassion for vulnerable children around the world.
More than a symbol, the UNICEF Snowflake is the centerpiece of an ambitious campaign to raise millions of dollars in support of health, immunization, nutrition, clean water and sanitation, education and protection for children in developing nations.
A mid-Manhattan seasonal attraction for 20 years, the Snowflake was dedicated to UNICEF by the Stonbely Family Foundation in 2002. Last year, acclaimed lighting designer Ingo Maurer and the French-based luxury goods company Baccarat unveiled a new UNICEF Crystal Snowflake, the world's largest outdoor crystal chandelier of its kind.
Baccarat presents the UNICEF Snowflake Ball
On November 28, 2005, UNICEF held its second annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The black-tie fundraising event took place in conjunction with the lighting of the UNICEF crystal Snowflake just a few blocks from the hotel.
13 December 1984, New York Times, "Snowflake Weighs Heavily on Fifth Avenue," Critic's Notebook by Paul Goldberger, pg. C19:
THE problem with the "snowflake" of lights suspended at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street is not that it is not pretty, although it is true that you have to move a block or so away before its ugly web of supporting wires disappears and the array of 6,000 tiny bulbs seems to be floating in midair. But even when you do step back and see it properly, the snowflake has an odd grossness to it; it is big enough to fill the intersection, but that is big indeed for a snowflake, or for an arrangement of lights intended to suggest delicacy, precision and grace.
The other curious aspect to this is that the snowflake's designer, Douglas Leigh, who has created many of the most successful, even brilliant, lighting schemes for the city's skyscraper tops, has had his only recent failure at this very same place.