After an amazing travel deal crossed our path, we decided to escape our lives and head to the concrete jungle of New York City for an impromptu girl’s weekend. We were going to be in New York to ring in the New Year and couldn’t resist the iconic experience of seeing the ball drop at midnight in Times Square. Growing up watching Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve, we couldn’t help but feel intrigued by the chaos and excitement of the night.
Boy, were we naïve.
If you are bound, bent and determined to spend your New Years Eve being caught on camera waving wildly behind Ryan Seacrest, here are 5 tips to get you through the night!
Start Early. Like really early
Arriving in Times Square just after 5:00 pm, we found the festivities in full swing. As we shuffled through gate after gate like a herd of cattle, we were quick to realize we had arrived far too late. By the time we were settled into position, we were too many blocks away to even catch a glimpse of that historic ball. To make matters worse, the loud concert music and screaming fans couldn’t even be heard; we could see Lady Gaga on a large view screen on the side of a building but the crowd around us was standing around, pretty much in silence. Not at all the festive atmosphere we’d seen on TV.
We learned that prime spots are snapped up quickly, with diehards arriving shortly after lunch to get into position and stay in position. Five o’clock was five hours too late.
Security is strict and rightly so. There are so many people in such a small area; with a few scares in the past they are no longer taking their chances. Backpacks and large bags are not allowed entry into Times Square, bring a small purse (if anything), otherwise, just fill your pockets with the essentials; lip balm, cash, ID and ibuprofen!
Hydrate, but just a little
Having to arrive shortly after 12 noon means a good 12 hours of standing before the countdown begins. There is no where to eat in the grounds so be sure to indulge in a large lunch, something that will keep you satisfied and avoid indigestion. Keep hydrated, but watch your water intake. Along with nowhere to eat, there is not a single public washroom within the area, and local businesses are notoriously cranky about letting non-patrons use the facilities. Wondering how this is even humanly possible, we began hearing stories of friends holding each others positions, only to be separated and never reunited, talk of others boasting indestructible bladders, and more disturbing, rumours of adult diapers as a natural alternative.
Dress in Layers
This one could be seen as common sense for all of those who’ve watched the festivities on television but New York in December/January is cold. Unless you are blinded by thoughts of, “I want to do that!!!” you can plainly see that 9 years out of 10, the people in the crowd look absolutely frozen. It’s probably going to be cold, so dress for the occasion, including warm boots!
Consider the Alternatives
This is the city that never sleeps. There are a million and one ways to spend your New Years Eve in style. Seek out one of the restaurants in Times Square that has a great view of the ball. On the eve, they all throw fabulous parties, with unlimited food and drinks (for a price), oh – and not to mention a public washroom. When it’s time to countdown, they’ll open up the doors and everyone can pour out into Times Square and see that Ball drop in all its glory.
After realizing we wouldn’t be seeing or hearing anything, we decided to ditch Times Square altogether. Ending up in Grand Central Station, we enjoyed a cupcake or two from Magnolia Bakery, and sat back to “people-watch” all of those coming and going. It has remained one of my most cherished and memorable New Years events to date.
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