Around this time of year, people everywhere are beginning to make that all important decision…WHERE to ring in the New Year?
For most people it is an easy choice, with many choosing to hit up the same place as the year (or even years) before, because it is their preferred place to be. My childhood memories of New Year celebrations involved family get togethers in the suburbs of South-East Melbourne; or the beach side town of Phillip Island where we would rent a house for a whole week. Both would entail watching illegal fireworks shoot off around us once the clock stroke 12, and the ‘national’ fireworks display of Sydney Harbour would be playing on the television.
NYC: My First Winter New Year’s Eve
After 27 years of hot Summer nights, I decided to head to the one place I dreamt of celebrating New Years: New York City. Having been to New York a few times before, I was excited to finally see the city in winter, even if I was doing it on my own. All of the Christmas decorations, the tree at Rockefeller Center and of course ice-skating in Central Park were experiences I could now tick off. This city truly comes alive during the festive season.
As a first-timer on the New Year’s scene, I only had one option to consider: the ball drop in Times Square. How could I even contemplate anything else? This was a must-do experience that I had to take! So I did. I researched how the event worked, and in the days leading up I worked out where I wanted to be for the best view. It snowed a few days before the 31st, (and I was truly a kid on Christmas morning right then!); and it was extremely chilly the entire time I was there so I knew this experience was not going to be as relaxed as all those other times I could compare it to.
NYC: The Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop
13 hours of waiting!
Knowing I needed to arrive early, I made my way to Times Square at about 10:30am and placed myself in the vicinity of the area I wanted to be in which was right next to the main Nivea stage where all of the performances would be held later on in the evening. Here I would have a perfect view of the ball drop and the entertainment.
The intersections begin to close around this time, and as the day progresses more and more sections are blocked off, the closer they get to Central Park. So ensuring I was close enough to it all, and in viewing distance of the stage was all I wanted. The section I was hoping to be in was half full, so I just monitored the situation and eventually the cops started locking these sections down.
The only down side for the people who had already placed themselves against the barrier at the front of the section, were that they now were being asked to move out of the section so that the cops could search everyone and our bags before permitting us back in there. We all need to be safe, but I felt bad for those people as they must have been waiting a few hours to snare those areas and it was taken away from them upon this security check.
One thing I did notice, was that the cops were letting us into the section, but they were trying to get people to fill up the entire bottom of the section too. Normally, this would not be a problem except that down the front of this section on the right hand side, you could not actually see the building the ball is on as it was obscured by a building to the right side of us. So I did not want to be down in that area, waiting as long as I was going to, and in the end see nothing!
Once I passed inspection, (I only had sour cherry balls, a muffin, a bottle of water, a blanket and my camera with me), the cops tried to get us to fill up the area on the right and no one wanted this. I kept to the back of the section and once the barriers were closed and no one else was allowed in, people spread out and laid claim to their spot for the night. Being small, I shifted my way to an area at the back where I could lean on the barrier with my back and see everything I needed to. It was a perfect choice.
As it was only about 1pm, the waiting game would NOW begin. People sat and played games, or ate…Dominos made a heap of cash charging $20 for a medium pizza, with delivery guys stopping by with ready-to-eat Pepperoni pies. When you are locked in a cage like structure with no access to food or toilets…you decide to take them up on their offer. As it was a chilly day too, a hot meal sounds like paradise. But I was not willing to part with that amount of money when I had rations already; and I couldn’t use the bathroom now that I was in there, so I had to be wise.
As I was there alone, I decided to make friends with the people around me and sure enough found Aussies, Americans and Europeans around my age to get to know to pass the time. Time didn’t go much faster, but sitting on your own for the entire day and night would not be fun.
Times Square Entertainment For NYE
By 6pm, when the entertainers were beginning to rehearse (and the cameras too), and Nivea hats and balloons were handed out, the mood shifted to a ‘now it begins’ feeling. We were able to dance and move to the music which was needed after feeling stiff from siting and standing in various poses once the aches had begun to kick in. The entertainment on this occasion was: Train, Psy, Carly Rae Jepson, Neon Trees and Taylor Swift. So over the next few hours all of these entertainers were rehearsing, except Swift who had a stand in for the cameras to use.
As the hours clicked by, and more and more countries celebrated the beginning of their New Year people were getting antsy. I won’t lie the pain I felt in my lower back made me need to sit down quite a few times, but getting back up hurt more. It was a torture I have never felt before, and at times one does question why they voluntarily signed up for this. There were certain moments throughout the night that I was in so much pain all I could do was laugh, but that hurt everything even more…it made you feel like a crazy person! But when the real performances started to kick off and the night truly began those feelings did pass and the adrenalin finally kicked in.
The last 2 hours felt like 20 years when you are standing in a chilly winter’s night but eventually the real Taylor Swift made her appearance at 11:30pm and rocked the place! She was amazing! She finished with 10 minutes to go, which felt like a lifetime! I couldn’t believe it was finally here!
NYC: Times Square Ball Drop Countdown!
The atmosphere was electric and the countdown with one minute to go was a sound I will never forget. The ticking of the clock counting down the seconds sent goosebumps through you, and all you could do was hold your breath as you realized that after all that waiting; after all of the hours of fighting the pain, this MOMENT was here. And it was incredible!
When the New Year finally rang in, there were fireworks and a sea of confetti that enveloped everyone; ‘Should auld acquaintance be forgot’ and other songs like ‘New York, New York’ rang out as they always do, with people wishing everyone around them a Happy New Year! It was the perfect celebration to a very LONG day! We had all made it!
This experience is one I will never forget, because I felt so alive. Standing with a sea of strangers for hours just to enjoy 60 seconds of thrill was completely worth it, and now that I know what it feels like to be amongst that crowd, I don’t have to wonder anymore.
It may have been cold, and painful and long; but the best experiences in life are the ones that test you and show you what you can handle.
Would I do it again?
As Mr Big from Sex and the City said all those years ago: Absofuckingloutley!