Monday, January 5, 2009

Welcoming 2009 NYC style

A long time ago I started a little list of things I wanted to accomplish at some point in my life. I get it out every once in awhile and make additions to it. Now I can cross another thing off of it - seeing the ball drop in Times Square on New Years Eve.

I am not a big fan of New Years. It seems everything is usually over hyped and doesn't live up to expectations. But for some reason I have always wanted to spend a New Year's in Times Square. I can remember watching Dick Clark and the countdown on TV and thinking that it looked like so much fun. I hated watching it being replayed for all of us in the Central time zone and knowing that it was not live.

As a resident of NYC I decided this was my year to do it. If not, I never would. I was lucky enough to have some friends crazy enough to want to do it too and we began researching what spending the evening in Times Square would entail. We learned there were no bathrooms and no food vendors, you couldn't mill about, and that backpacks and other large bags were not allowed.

We knew it was going to be cold and tried to create the warmest possible combination of clothing before heading out. I ended up wearing some long underwear I had from my undergrad tailgating days, three shirts, three pairs of socks, and all the winter gear I could possibly fit on. I was sweating on the way out of my apartment but knew it wouldn't last.

We arrived in Times Square around 5 pm and found ourselves stuck in a very large crowd waiting to pass through a security checkpoint. Once we made it through, we were led into one of the "pens" about eight blocks from the ball. (Apparently the people in front must have arrived midday. But as far as I could tell, the only benefit to being closer was being able to actually hear the entertainers - definitely not worth being there for another 4 or 5 hours more.) Each pen contained a few hundred people which helped a bit in keeping us all a bit warmer.

Then the waiting began. We stood around for a few hours trying to ignore cold noses and toes. Around 8 pm my friends and I started to reconsider our decision but we soon decided we had already waited for so long that we had to stay.

Shortly after, the pen in front of us opened up and the police began moving us forward. This wasted some time and also put us in a spot a bit more shielded from the wind and further from the crazy Spanish speakers who kept jumping up and down and singing what I imagined were rowdy soccer songs. The hours passed and the girls and I amused ourselves by recalling crazy high school stories.

Finally we had reached 11:30 and the crowd began to perk up. At 11:58 the countdown began. The ball dropped, everyone cheered, confetti rained down, and fireworks went off. It seemed to be over so quickly after having endured such a long wait.

After taking it in for a few minutes we wanted to beat the rush to the Subway and head back to my warm apartment where our bottles of wine were waiting.

It was something I was glad to experience, but I am also glad to think that I will never do it again.

Happy New Year everyone!


Andrea Singer said...

That's so cool that you were exactly where everybody has always watched on TV! I can see why one experience was enough, though. My husband was commenting that night that he thinks they need something new besides just the ball. . .it's really not that impressive or exciting nowadays. But, it still beat hanging out at home doing nothing, haha, which is what I did :)

Carolyn Kresser said...

You know what I found out today? The ball this year was a new LED ball... who knew?