Experience Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010

by NewYearsEve.com
08.04.2009

Times Square on New Year's Eve is definitely something to be experienced. Although the concentrated area is one that millions have claimed standing rights to, it is truly one of the most unique trips possible—regardless of how long it takes you to get there. The “bow tie” area in the heart of Manhattan, overflowing with people and over-the-top energy, is not your ordinary party in the streets. The event mimics the past and most of our lives: each celebration on the eve of a New Year in New York is different than the one before, and there is no mistaking or confusing one for the other.

The “City that Doesn’t Sleep” also doesn’t waste any time when it comes to partying. The hundreds of thousands that clamor in anticipation of a New Year begin gathering during the afternoon of December 31st, with the idea of getting close to the stage that the famous Waterford Crystal Ball lingers above. Without the option of leaving or staking claim in the pavement, revelers must wait, regardless of the weather, or lose their coveted spot. The countdown may only be ten seconds long, but the hours of entertainment and expectations of a New Year is par for the course in Times Square. The barricaded areas, closed to traffic at 42nd street, start cheering around 6 p.m. when the ball is raised; but the crowds arrive much earlier than that, and spread north. As people accumulate like Nor’easter snow flakes, they also get rowdier; this isn’t an affair for the faint of heart. While open liquor is vehemently prohibited in New York, and will be confiscated on New Year's Eve merriment, it does not stop revelers from trying—or showing up already in the holiday “spirit.”

By 7 p.m., the streets are generally blocked and filled from 42nd to 47th streets, and Broadway is closed. This is when the holiday really begins in Times Square. The giant screens all around the area display the surrounding sights and sounds for the final two minutes of each hour until midnight. With time, the space gets less available but the universal mix of happiness and debauchery is intoxicating and contagious; strangers become friends in the time leading up to the countdown. Some get restless and without anywhere to actually go for another few hours, it may seem like a waste to outsiders. Talk to almost anyone who has experienced it, however, and they will tell you it is definitely something that isn’t seen, heard, encountered or felt anywhere else in the world. As time progresses and the past year gets closer to being history, Times Square prepares for the moment of the evening. By 9:30 p.m. or so, the Times Square Alliance hands out party favors to the unbelievably large mob, dispensing pom-poms, cameras, balloons, confetti, festive sunglasses and other novelty items. While the last of the NYE accessories are passed along, the rest of the world gets a peek at the activity: the live video broadcast begins at 10 p.m. EST, sending video clips of the party to the entire world. While participants pre-maturely wish each other “Happy New Year!” to a soundtrack playing overhead, the 1 billion viewers at home, in bars, parties, and away from the madness watch it all happen in real time.

Like many things that are highly marked, New Year's Eve can seem anticlimactic. We have all had the years, or seconds into a new one, where we think “that was it?” agreeing in the overrated-ness that we sum the holiday up to. While it is of course a possibility at the Times Square New Years celebration, it isn’t probable. By 11:59 p.m., when the special guest is walking up to hit the button signaling the 60-second lowering of the ball, you almost wish it was 7 p.m. again. With all eyes looking upward at the top of the island between 45th and 46th streets, the minute before a New Year begins; while the 6-foot-wide ball compromised of 504 Waterford Crystal triangles, 696 multi-colored light bulbs, 96 high intensity strobe lights, and 90 rotating pyramid mirrors is lowered 77 feet, the first fifty seconds seem to take ages. A 1070-pound symbol of time looks a lot smaller when you see it on TV. The ten seconds leading up to every year from 1902 until the present have all felt different, some might say. As each number on the calendar is changed, Times Square becomes a commotion of confetti and liveliness. The modern celebrations consist of pyrotechnic displays illuminating the skyline, while the minutes after the Waterford Crystal Ball has descended are bursting with animation and color. Within a blink of an eye the moment is gone but forever “brought to mind” as Auld Lang Syne is heard all over the Big Apple. Revelers all embrace the New Year and the past 365 days seem but a distant memory; the second the future begins, most of the people in the streets are now onto finishing the morning. Fast friends disband and groups walk away from the scene that you couldn’t pry them away from minutes ago.

The best known New Year's Eve celebration has become an international custom. Even thousands of miles from the happenings in Times Square, people await the party and commemorate with those on TV, connecting themselves to the real experience. Many people come back time and time again, promising there is no other place in the world that is quite the same. New Year's Eve in New York is the unique pairing of a powerful energy and city that were made for each other.

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