NYE in NYC; yes, it is Chaos with a capital C. But, that is exactly why you go, right? We thought it was such a spectacular idea and I do not for a second regret going. But with that said, there is truly some planning and considerations you need to keep in mind or you will be cold, hungry and miserable. We were fortunate and had some of the best weather ever for New Years in NYC, and I’m sure that added to both our enjoyment, and the number of people in the crowd. And I didn’t even wear a coat!
The energy that is in that crowd is indescribable. If you are claustrophobic or agoraphobic, this is not the event for you. But to have that New Years kiss in Times Square with a ton (literal) of confetti dropping from overhead…to sing New York New York in New York for the New Year…to see the fireworks over the flashing 2012…to watch and listen to the countdown and ball drop…all of those things you’ve watched on TV, happening WITH you is just so cool.
- There are a solid million or so folks that head to Times Square for this shin-dig and you are a mere blip. Don’t expect any special treatment from anyone. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was polite, in a party mood and very nice. But if the cop on 44th Ave told you to go across the square at 49th and the cop at 49th told you no, the answer was no (with a head shake and an “I’m sorry man”). You kept walking, and walking. But, when they say you can see the ball drop from as far away as such and such, they are right. I’m sure the energy in the crowd ten blocks away was just as high as the energy where we were standing.
- Pay attention to the fine print. A pedi-cab is usually a great option and might very well still be, but they too inflate prices and we paid $28 per person to go 9 short blocks. The fine print was the “per person”. A word of caution on “partial” views from hotels and restaurants, find out what that really means. Also, watching Times Square behind a pane of glass 10 stories up just doesn’t sound all that appealing, the wow is in the crowd.
- Plan and then plan again and have a back-up plan. Our hotel was at 8th and 43rd. Our dinner party was on 44th, just past 7th. Any other day of the week, that’s about a 6 minute walk. Around 6pm on NYE that walk took us over 90 minutes and included a $56 pedi-cab ride.
- There are many people that go out around lunchtime and stay out until the ball drop. Here’s a quick summary of how it typically works. Cops start with barricades and they corral people into sections, filling a section, then moving on to the next one, each one further from that action than the last. Get in to a good section, congrats! You now get to stand there, no food, drinks or bathrooms until after the ball drop. You can leave your section anytime you want, but once cops call the section full, it is closed to re-entry. We were out people watching at around 4pm and the sections were filled up to around 7 blocks away from the ball. The crowds increased a bazillion-fold over the next few hours.
- My advice to anyone wanting to go experience this once in a lifetime event…find a private event that will get you to Times Square, but at a reasonable time. We went to an all you can eat/all you can drink dinner party at Dopo Teatro. The food was good, the drinks plentiful and we made a few new friends. They had packages that ended with the ball drop and others that included more drinks/dancing until 4am. The best part…? We were escorted from the restaurant, past the crowds and police barricades (heck the cops protected US from the crazy crowds, like we were celebrities), and out to Times Square at 44th at around 11pm. That put us right next to the platform that Ryan Seacrest was broadcasting from. This is not a cheap option, a few hundred dollars per person.
- When looking for a place, pay attention to what you get. Some places right on Times Square have parties for a few hundred bucks too, but they neglect to tell you that you stay inside for your countdown, no ball drop for you. Find out what they mean by “partial” view of the ball. Ask questions, these things are usually non-refundable.
- Use common sense, like you would in any crowded place. Men, wallets in front pockets. Ladies, avoid a purse but if you bring one, wrap it around your shoulders, hold it with your hand, etc. Mine was a wristlet that held some cash, my ID, my phone and my small camera. Didn’t need more than that.
This is a crowded place, even when it’s not NYE. Make it the big night and it was VERY crowded. If you are annoyed by other people, can’t stand being jostled by (and with) strangers, don’t like loud noise, etc…don’t go, watch it on TV. But if you can make it there, pay attention around you. Enjoy the people watching, the celebration.