We had this all planned. Contrary to every advice given by bloggers, the locals, tourists and basically everyone I met whilst on holiday – we decided to spend NYE in New York City’s Time Square. On December 1st, 2016, I was able to cross that off my bucket list. Would I do it again? Definitely not. Once in your life is more than enough. I had a good time – but that is where I draw a fine line.
Here are things I learned from my experience:
1. Get there REALLY early
Yes, you have probably been told this by everyone – but I can’t reiterate this enough. We arrived around 1pm – and even though we waited for a long time – we had a great spot in the middle of Times Square. You come any later, you will not be able to see the darn ball drop and in my opinion, it’s just not worth going. My friend arrived at 7pm, a full 5 hours before the ball drop – and he ended up at 53rd street – 10 blocks away. There will be no entertainment from there and you will only get a pitiful amount of confetti every now and then.
2. If you leave, you will lose your spot
It does sound simple but it’s worth mentioning. You can’t leave to go to the bathroom – or to get food or drinks. We came packed with enough food to feed Scotland – but it was a perfect amount as you will get bored waiting, and boredom will lead to nibbling. Before entering Times Square, the NYPD will conduct a security check. You are not allowed to bring glass bottles or bags. Anything you bring in must be on you. There are also no vendors selling food or drink.
My brother, sister and I made sure we didn’t drink as there will be no way to let it all out afterwards. Unfortunately we had to witness someone in front of us who didn’t take this advice. She urinated through her trousers standing up, right in front of us. We were sitting behind her just witnessing this with a complete and utter shock on our face. We didn’t know whether we should laugh or cry. What was hilarious was that she continued her conversation without a care in the world.
3. You’ll feel like cattle
They have the strangest system of organization. The NYPD basically establishes a series of pens, with walkways around the pens. You will be in tight quarters with hundreds of your soon-to-be closest friends. If you are claustrophobic, stay far away. There was a time when my feet weren’t even touching the ground because the people were so close to me, they literally lifted me up. The same happened to my sister! We found the funny side of it as we just couldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous we looked. You would need to be persistent and adamant to survive this part of the day. At certain points of the day, the NYPD will herd you from one pen to another – literally like sheep. Appreciate this moment – as it will be the ONLY exercise you’ll get the whole time you are there. Once the ball drops, the NYPD will open up these pens one at a time in which you will see everyone running for the bathroom.
4. Make sure you are with good company
I couldn’t have asked for better company than my brother and sister – we played cards, we made friends with the Colombians, we argued just for the sake of it. I should have brought a book with me as we sat down in the place where we were standing. I highly recommend you befriending the people around you. Not only you would meet people from all over the world, but it will make time go quicker.
5. Wear lots of layers!
I say this, but it wasn’t actually as cold as I thought it would be. My siblings and I left the house looking like we were just about to tackle the Antarctica as we went slightly overboard. I initially expected it to be really cold – but I think being in a large crowd helped block the wind. We also bought hand warmers which really helped! It lasts for 8-9 hours and you put it inside your gloves. I leant mine to the old woman who’s hands were freezing – they were life-savers though, kept my hand warm all night long
6. Have extremely low expectations on the entertainment
A few sound checks were done before the event officially started. By then, time started going quicker when they played some music in between, which made us all dance (+ stay warm!). 6pm finally rolled around and they raised the ball. The ball looks much better than on TV and we were all getting slightly more excited after swearing under our breaths most of the afternoon about why we decided to spend NYE here.
What truly amazes me with such a technologically advanced country such as the US – why is there only one small screen in Times Square for the revellers to view the events happening on the stage? Just one small Toshiba screen beneath the ball to show most of the event. My bedroom TV seemed bigger. Pfft.
A few people near the railings were interviewed – including my younger sister because of her crazy hair band but the channel was never announced. As soon as the camera popped up, everyone would start cheering and pushing to get their faces on TV. Planet Fitness passed out huge hats around 7pm but they passed them out from the railing so not everyone gets them. Luckily, with my brother’s help and determination, we all got a hat.
Things really started to pick up after 8pm and as each hour passed, they would do a countdown and show how many hours were left until midnight. We passed the time by talking, dancing and taking lots of pictures. Each hour went quicker than the last. The last hour went by the quickest with most of it filled by performance. By this point, I was SO excited to see Mariah Carey come on stage. However, when she did come on – her performance was disastrous when she suffered a series of mishaps. At the end of her ‘performance’, she walked off stage and signed off with “it just don’t get any better”, telling us that “I’m trying to be a good sport here”. Mate, please don’t trouble yourself. She stopped singing her song Emotions, paced the stage and the told the audience to finish the lyrics for her. I was just impressed that her backup dancers were still dancing/ keeping a straight face while all our jaws were on the floor. Bloody fantastic.
A minute before midnight, we all counted and watched the ball drop, a ton of confetti were dropped as they played Frank Sinatra, “New York, New York” – which ended the night nicely. This event is not for everyone – but I admit, we got very lucky with our timing, position, food etc. You have to come in appreciating what you get and have low expectations . That way, you can just enjoy the evening. I did enjoy the experience, but would not do it agin.