New York for New Year’s Eve: Most Awesome Idea or Terrible Life Choice?

nyc times square nye ball
New Year’s Eve 2010 – Times Square, NYC by asterix611 Flickr Creative Commons

Like many Americans, a family tradition of mine has always been watching one of the many New Years’ Eve broadcast. I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to stand out there with the masses to ring in the brand new year. So in December of 2007, I decided, why not?! Off I went to the Big Apple to answer the big question – New York for New Year’s Eve: Most Awesome Idea or Terrible Life Choice. So here are some things to note for you would-be Times Square attendees for this upcoming New Year or future New Years:


new york city new years eve
new york city: ball, times square, new years eve, 12 degrees fahrenheit by sandwichgirl on Flickr Creative Commons

Yes, I’m the biggest baby when it comes to cold weather so standing outside in 12F weather equaled to a miserable (and frozen) me. It probably didn’t help that I grew up in Los Angeles where temperatures below 60F were non-existent. So before you decide to stand in Times Square – ask yourself if you can be outside for hours on out in freezing temperatures. If you can, make sure to really bundle up!

Be Prepared to Stand For a LONG Time

In retrospect, this made sense but I was not aware that NYPD typically starts shutting down blocks in midtown around 4PM and that people would be lining up around that time for a ball that wouldn’t drop until eight hours later. I just so happened to be catching a Broadway matinee show that afternoon and realized that there’s no point in going back to the hotel. If you want a great spot, you’d probably have to be there even earlier to claim your area and once you have your spot, you cannot leave the barricades – not even to use the toilet or grab a bite to eat. So get comfortable and get to know your neighbors, because it’s going to be awhile.

Entertain Yourself

Depending on what time you get to Times Square, you may be there for hours until the ball drops and the whole experience is quite boring until the last 20 minutes so make sure you find something that will keep your mind off the wait and keep you and your group entertained – whether it’s a book, cards or a well-charged phone.

An Energy Like No Other

Time Square in a Confetti shower
Time Square in a Confetti shower by xmascarol Flickr Creative Commons

For all the downside of spending New Years Eve in Times Square, the last 20 minutes, or for that matter, the final 10 minutes, makes up for the eight hours you spent standing around in the freezing cold. The energy of the crowd during those final moments, especially once the countdown has started and the ball is prepping for its descent, is like nothing else. It doesn’t matter if you know the person next to you but chances are you’ll be hugging them.

Public Transportation Nightmare

As you may expect, once midnight is over, everyone will be clamoring to get out of Times Square – either to continue partying through the night or going back to their homes (or hotel rooms) – so you can only imagine the nightmare in hailing a cab or getting to the subway. If you’re lucky (and can afford the hefty price), home (i.e. your hotel room) is around the corner and is within walking distance.

Trash, Trash, Trash

Yes, NY can be quite a dirty city but you ain’t see nothing until after everyone has left Times Square. It’s quite an abundant of trash from garbage that sightseers have left behind or the decorations from the ball-drop and everything in between. However, thanks to the hard working men and women from the City Sanitation Department, all evidence from the night gets cleaned up before the rest of the population awake from the night’s celebration.

Spending New Years Eve in Times Square is no easy adventure and if you’re travel]ling around that time to the city, it can be quite expensive. However, for all the craziness, it’s definitely one of those things worth experiencing on the to-do list. So while it may feel like it’s a terrible life choice at Hour 5 in 12* weather and you really have to use the toilet, however, when that countdown starts, you will think it’s the most awesome idea, even for just a split second. Then you’ll vow to never, EVER do it again! I know I did!


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