For the past several years, a good friend and I had said that for New Year’s Eve, we wanted to go watch the ball drop in New York City. Not only do people travel from all over the world go to see the ball drop, but also, the film that shares the holiday’s name makes the event look even more glamorous than the way people talk about the experience. Plus, because we live relatively close to the city, it seemed like a shame not to go. Normally, another friend has a big New Year’s Eve party every year, but this year she wasn’t having the party and we figured it was a great year to head to the city.
Four of us wound up going to the big event: me, Kait, Kait’s Jen, and Evelyn, who I met that day. Because they were all so positive and shared the desire to venture out to the city on this day, I wound up having a blast just being in their company.
On the train ride there we all laughed after discovering that every one of our parents and friends seemed to be Debbie downers about going to New York on this day. Here are just some of the comments we heard from them:
“I did that once and it was horrible. It was freezing cold & you stand pushed up against a crowd of strangers for hours.”
“I would never do that. Are you guys going to wear diapers?” (We actually heard the diaper question from multiple people.)
“Why don’t you just stay home with the family for New Years?”
“You’re nuts! I would never go there on New Year’s Eve”
Compared to many people, we got to the city pretty late around 5:00 & even stopped at Chipotle to get something to eat. At that point, the city looked completely empty and I remember us all reveling because we believed we’d proved everyone wrong and saying, “What is everyone talking about? They were all freaking out and it’s completely empty here!”
Soon, we discovered the comments from our friends and family were justified.
After Chipotle, we naively walked around looking for a way to get close to where the concerts would be. Although I’m not quite sure why we didn’t realize we would never get close enough to even hear the concert if we arrived in the city at five, we all agreed later that we wouldn’t have been able to stand there longer than the six hours we did stay there for.
We wound up crunched into the middle of a crowd a couple blocks from Times Square, but at least it was in a spot where we could see the ball sitting up there waiting. Because there were police barriers everywhere, we weren’t able to get any closer. We wound up meeting a really nice man named Gerardo who told us he lives in New York and goes to watch the ball drop every year; he told us his friends were supposed to meet him, but they later called him and canceled. He was sweet enough to lend us the coats he initially brought for his friends as a blanket and at the end of the night we gave Gerardo the nickname “Our little angel”; he is also the one who convinced us to stay the entire time.
Although we all dressed in really warm clothing, after about two hours of standing there we were already numb from the freezing cold temperatures and eventually sat on the ground huddling with and hugging each other for warmth, as Gerardo kept laughing at us.
After about three hours we were already considering heading back to Kait and Jen’s college to go to a party there instead. All four of us were torn between multiple thoughts: “If we stay the entire time we can officially say we watched the ball drop in New Years Eve on Times Square and cross it off our bucket lists.” “And we can prove our friends wrong,” Jen added.
And then there was Gerardo, who continued to bombard us with inspirational sayings: “If you leave, you will look back and regret it for the rest of your lives,” he said. “When I lived in Guatemala I used to hike for miles on the mountains carrying water on my head and I wanted to give up, but I didn’t.”
Then again, after four hours the diapers didn’t seem like such a ridiculous idea anymore. “If we go to the party we can be warm and find a bathroom!” we thought. Jen didn’t have to go to the bathroom, but Kait and I cracked up when she said, “If I was freezing and I had to pee, I’d be miserable right now!” since we were both in that condition.
And yet by 10:00 we realized we were so close, waiting there for the rest of the hours would have been for nothing. Despite the cold, being there with people from all over the world, catching those goofy New Years hats they through out to us, and Gerardo’s kindness was part of this awesome experience.
And so we made it to midnight and although we were a few blocks from Times Square, we got to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve in New York City and agreed we could cross this one off our bucket lists. Gerardo even gave us all kisses on the cheek and after the hullabaloo died down, helped us get to the train station on time, so we wouldn’t get stuck in New York. We even made it back to the college for the party wearing our goofy hats.
Despite almost giving up, we were all really glad we stayed until midnight. If you haven’t been to NYC on New Years Eve, I would recommend doing it at least once (even if you never go back there on that day again… unless maybe you get first row concert tickets ;)). What made it really fun was experiencing the festivities together and the feeling of accomplishment we felt as we waited to ring in the New Year.
Now that we’re more than halfway through this year, I figured it was a good time to reflect on this day. Does anyone else have this item on his or her bucket list? Has anyone already crossed it off? I’d love to hear about your experience!