Saturday, January 12, 2013

Watching the Ball Drop in NYC!

Crossing it off the list!!

NYE in NYC?  It's spelled C - h - a - o - s with a capital C, but that is exactly why we went.  We thought it was such a spectacular idea and I do not for a regret going not even for one second.  Oh sure, we got lots of "constructive criticism".  Like:

  1. Are you insane?
  2. You do NOT want to go and watch the ball drop.  Seriously.
  3. Wear adult diapers! 
  4. Times Square on New Years Eve is not the place you want to be.
  5. It sounds fun, but it's a nightmare.
  6. I've done it and I can tell you honestly I would NEVER do it again. 
  7. New Yorkers wouldn't be caught dead there!

Well, we might be insane.  We might have big kahunas.  We might even want to experience danger.

Truth is, we just want to experience life.  We want to cross things off our bucket list while we are young enough and able-bodied to do so.  I think we were fortunate and had some of the best weather ever for New Years in NYC (a big THANK YOU to Mother Nature).  On the plus side, I’m sure that added to our enjoyment; but on the flip side  I think it added a few more hundred thousand people.  I think weather could be a big issue.  We just dressed for it. Coats and scarves. Hats, gloves and the best thing ever invented...Under Armour.  Oh, and I wore my Ugg boots. They are super comfortable and warm! Everyone said it was actually a pretty mild year at 37 degrees. Balmy! Twenty degrees warmer than 2012.  I was not cold for one minute.

The energy that is in that crowd is indescribable. If you are claustrophobic or agoraphobic, this is not the place for you; but to have that New Year's kiss in NYC with a few thousand of your new-found sing Auld Lang see the fireworks atop the infamous NYC watch and listen to the see that ball drop…to see all of those things you've watched every year on real just so cool.

There are a solid million or so folks that head to Times Square for this shin-dig and we were a mere blip. I expected folks to be mean. A friend had already told me so.  Also rude & drunk.  I didn't expect any special treatment from anyone.  Everyone was fairly polite, in a party mood and just as excited to be there as we were. The firemen and policemen were so nice.  If they said no, you can't cross the street here, the answer was given with a head shake and an “I’m sorry”.  We had no choice but to stay put.  I’m sure the energy in the crowd ten blocks away was just as high as the energy where we were standing.  Truth is, I don't think there's a bad place to be in NYC for the stroke of midnight.  The entire city is celebrating.  I think watching the ball drop from anywhere it can be seen, is where the magic is.  The wow is in the crowd.
One Times Square.
See how tiny the ball looks up there?
Twenty-five stories up.
We didn't even make a plan.  I just knew I wasn't up for an all-day stakeout.  We went to a nice, festive dinner in Chelsea and then got on the subway headed uptown.  When I heard the driver say the stations were closed between 42nd Street and 59th Street, we simply got off the train.  We came up the stairs and spit out right smack in the middle of a ginormous crowd on 42nd Street...@ 8:43 p.m.! Just due east from the ball.  We could see it just fine.  This viewing spot works for us.

My recommendations?  Use common sense, like you would in any crowded place.  I did not wear my jewelry.  Men, wallets in front pockets. Ladies, avoid a purse; but if you bring one, make sure it goes over your shoulder.  Mine was little (ID, my phone and my small camera).  Several times it got caught between me and someone else.  A wrist-let would also be good.  Bill had a very thin travel backpack. We did not  need more than that.

This is a crowded place, even when it’s not NYE. We'd been to Times Square twice for a play during our visit.  I've never seen it so crowded.  Make it the big night and it was VERY crowded. If you are annoyed by other people, can’t stand being jostled by (and with) strangers, don’t like loud noise, etc…don’t go, watch it on TV. Pay attention and enjoy the people around you.  They will be your new best friends until the end of the year!  Enjoy the spectacle.  There's nothing else like it.

The last time the subway stopped on 42nd street, a surge of people came through where we were standing.  Bill and his new 300+ linebacker friend stood their ground.  The people trying to get through made our group sway this way and that way.  It was really scary. I had heard stories about people being trampled to death.  Seriously, it’s like being herded like cattle. This part?  Not so fun.

A three hour wait was enough for me.  With my whiplash (from our December car accident, and the fact that we had walked 20+ miles in the last three days), I thought I was going to just stiffen up and not be able to move.  It's really hard on your body to stand on the concrete for such a long time.  My shoulders hurt, my lower back hurt, and my hips hurt. We could not see the stage and could not hear the performances from where we were standing.  I could only watch and eye the ball.  Thank goodness it puts on its own light show.

Nothing to do but stand.  Wait.  Meet your new neighbors. Stand some more.  Wait some more.  By the way, there was a New York family of three (Dad, 18-year-old son, Denzel, and 16-year-old-daughter) standing next to us.  Don't believe it when they say they don't go.  Of course, Bill talked to everyone in our little circle.  He entertained (a captive audience is Bill's fav).  He joked.  He teased.  And when they started throwing the free Nivea hats and free samples, he caught one for EVERY person in our little group.  At the end of the evening, Denzel our new New York friend, asked us to promise that we'd all come back to this very same spot and celebrate again next year.  We'd love to!

Besides the logistics, our my biggest worry was about going to the bathroom and food.  We ate before, but several people around us were they had brought and someone ordered a pizza!  We stopped before getting on the subway and filled a flask with Buttershots and bought a small bottle of Crown Royal (airplane size).  We only had one bottle of water.  Little tiny sips...that's all. The police didn't seem to care and no one checked our bags.  I was REALLY worried about the bathroom thing, we had been told people wear adult diapers. Depends?  Ew.  Gross.  Not even an option for me! I just went after dinner and drank really little water the entire evening.  I think it’s honestly a mental thing. I was prepared to not go, so honestly it wasn't really a problem.  But remember, we only stood for 3.5 hours. 

After the ball drop and the fireworks, we walked down Times Square and milled around with all the people.  The confetti was still blowing around in the breeze and Times Square is covered in confetti.  You can't even see the street (got a nice handful for the 'ole scrapbook).  We could also see the fireworks going off in Central Park.  Let me just tell you, this is a photographer's dream come true!  Oh...the photo opportunities!

Central Park fireworks!  Long after the stroke of midnight.
We ended up walking down a side street (forgot to look at the number) where all of the stars limos and black sedans were parked from the show.  Big tour buses too!  Wonder how they negotiate New York streets?  Lots of people on cell phones.  I heard names "Ryan Seacrest" being dropped and some band member I didn't know signing autographs.  We kept moving.

We walked over to 6th.  Down a couple more blocks and right onto the subway.  Yes, it was crowded, but we hopped right on the F train headed to Queens.  Even got a seat.  Together. trouble!  We arrived back safely @ Ted's house around 2:23 am.  Tired...but still on our watch-the-ball-drop-in-New-York-City high! 

Reminds me of Mardi Gras.  It emptied out quickly. 
So that’s how we rang in 2013.
It was f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s 
and something I will never forget.

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