New Year’s Eve 2014: Times Square

I spent this last New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I hadn’t done so before, and wanted to do it at least once just for the experience and spectacle of it all. Notes from the event, as well as pics and video, follow. (Click on an image thumbnail to view a slideshow of all of them; click on a video title to begin watching any of them.)

-They say to get there early, so I did: I arrived in NYC, a few blocks from Times Square, at about 2:30 p.m., and was at my spot by 3:30. Times Square itself is bordered on its north end by 47th Street; I was about 25 feet from that street. I had a pretty good spot, then; I could see (at least part of) the stage, and where the ball would drop. Perhaps, though, if I had shown up twelve hours early, instead of the 9.5 I did, I would have been able to have been in Times Square itself. :) In any case, aside from three 10-15 minute breaks kneeling at my spot (there wasn’t room to sit down), I stood for 8.75 hours, and was on my feet for 11 hours. It was demanding, but worth it.

-The NYE Times Square guides did say to bring something to do while waiting for midnight, so I brought three books; I finished one, and started a second.

-There are no public bathrooms in the area, and if you have to leave to use one elsewhere, or to get something to eat, you probably won’t be able to return to your place. Proper planning is therefore vital; you don’t want to eat so little you faint from hunger or thirst, but also don’t want to eat or drink so much that that you have to leave to use the bathroom. I had an additional issue; my two-can-a-day Cherry Coke Zero habit meant that I had to had some caffeine, or potentially suffer a withdrawal headache during the celebration. I went with, then, for the entire day, three hummus sandwiches, and 24 oz of caffeinated Crystal Light. I apparently planned well; I didn’t have to leave my spot.

-No backpacks are allowed into Times Square during New Year’s Eve, so one has to carry/wear everything they need. The guides also said to dress warmly, in layers if possible, since weather can of course be variable, and there’s no place to get away from rain/snow/cold without losing one’s spot. With the clothing layers, food, drink, and books, the sum total of what I carried/wore was: coat, long-sleeve shirt, short-sleeve shirt, long johns, gym pants, jeans, two pairs wool socks, boots, keys, wallet, phone, glasses bag, paper, pencil, change, glasses, sunglasses (in another bag), earphones, watch, water bottle, two sandwiches (in a bag), three books, earplugs (those were very handy; I had them in the entire time I was in my spot), gloves, and earband. I may have looked like a pack mule, but I was prepared. :)

-Many of the billboards were dynamic, but those that were were only on a 1-2 minute loop. There are some commercials I may never get out of my head. :)

-The performance stage actually faces away from Times Square; there’s only room for about twenty people (all of whom, I assume, were Very Very Important People) between the stage’s apron and the closest building. I wasn’t sure why this was; I assume it was for security’s sake, or because an overenergetic reveler had thrown something at a performer in the past. In any case, from my vantage, the only thing I could see, and then only very occasionally, was the back of a performer’s head. It’s a testament to video editing prowess that I probably would never have noticed this unless I had been there live.

-Only the performances (and some promotions for the event’s sponsors) were broadcast to the audience; we didn’t hear Ryan Seacrest, for instance, at all. Combined with the stage setup, I was struck by how much the event resembled a large-stadium sports game; the experience was planned to appeal much more to those watching at home, rather than those who were there in person.

My takeaway? 8.5 hours is long time to be crammed into a loud, cold, crowded spot, so I probably won’t be doing New Year’s Eve in Times Square for at least a while. I’m happy I did go this time, though; the spectacle was worth it to have experienced at least once.