Friday, January 2, 2009

Hello, 2009!

Happy 2009, everyone! I hope that you enjoyed the last moments of 2008 and that 2009 is shaping up to be great so far.

As for us...we did it! We really did New Year's Eve in Times Square. It was quite an adventure, I must say. Allow me to share! Please bear with me, because this will be long. I want to remember every detail because we will NEVER DO THIS AGAIN. Here we go...

Our friends Jeff and Jaime got into town around 10:00p.m. on Tuesday night. We met them out by Penn Station, and went to KMart to do some shopping for warm apparel, like long underwear. We were moderately successful. We then went back to our apartment and pulled out Rock Band once again. It's such a fun game to play with friends!

The guitar is my favorite.

The band: Eric singing, Jaime drumming, and Jeff guitaring.

We stayed up pretty late, which ultimately led to Eric calling in sick to work the next day. He had planned to leave really early anyway, and there really wasn't any work for him to do, so it just made sense. So, on New Year's Eve we all slept in a bit then went out to breakfast at a nearby diner. From there we stopped in a drugstore for more warm-stuff shopping, then parted ways. Jeff and Jaime went to see Avenue Q while Eric and hung out at home. Let me just point out that it snowed ALL DAY. It was really coming down for a while.

Around 4:00 p.m., Eric and I began the Bundling Up Process. We wore
so many clothes. I wore tights, jeans, sweatpants, two pairs of socks (including wool knee-high socks), a tank top, long-sleeved shirt, my warmest sweater, my rainboots with fleece liners, two scarves, my down coat, two pairs of gloves, ear muffs, and a hat. Likewise, Eric had long underwear (top and bottom), a long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, jeans, two pairs of socks, tennis shoes, a scarf, his down coat, earmuffs and a hat and two pairs of gloves. We basically made it our goal to wear so many clothes that we would be hot standing in Times Square. I will say that we did not succeed in that goal.

We left the house around 4:30p.m. and met back up with Jeff and Jaime at a nearby McDonald's. We brought them a bunch more clothes to put on, so they layered up in McDonald's. Then we started out to get into Times Square. The 45th Street entrance was already closed off because the streets were full up to that point. We finally got in around 49th Street. As we walked through towards Times Square, there were cops everywhere metal-detecting people with hand wands. They hand-wanded us again when we got to our "pen."

We ended up in a pen between 48th and 49th Streets on Broadway. The Ball drops on 42nd Street, so we were about 6 blocks away from the action. It actually was perfect, because we had a clear view of the Ball. If you're too close, I wouldn't think you could see anything, because you'd be up underneath it. So we were happy with our spot. We also were able to get up along the left side of the barricades, so we had a nice edge spot to take some pictures and have something to lean on. This was about 5:20 p.m.

One Times Square, where the ball dropped! You can see the "2009" above the Toshiba sign. This was taken right when we arrived, before they had raised the ball.

Ready to wait 6.5 hours in the cold!

Jeff and Jaime, trying to stay warm!

Let's go, midnight!

Let's talk for a second about the cold. It was COLD. All night, we kept our eyes on a building behind us that showed the current temperature. When we arrived at 5:30, it told us it was 17 degrees. So, that was the WARMEST weather we stood around in. It had stopped snowing, thankfully, but the winds had really picked up. According to Ryan Seacrest on the TV coverage of Times Square, by midnight with windchill the temperature was two degrees. I'm no meteorologist, but I don't think that's very many degrees.

The building behind us, showing the temperature as 17 degrees. This photo was taken at 5:30.

Eric? Are you in there?

At 6:00 we had our first exciting thing happen. They raised the ball, complete with a brief round of fireworks! So, that got us excited.

The ball being raised!

Fireworks! The ball is up!

And then, there was nothing else to do except wait. We began to look forward to the turn of every hour, which included another countdown and then the big screen flashing, "XX hours to go!" The first one of those we saw was "6 hours to go." In total, we waited 6.5 hours in the cold.

Hard to read, but the screen below the Toshiba sign says "4 hours to go!" Oh, how we cheered.

I'm trying to give a thumbs up, but my multiple pairs of gloves won't allow me to bend my pinky in. So, we have a "hang ten." Surf's up, dude.

Whenever I used to watch the Times Square festivities on TV, the thing that stood out to me most was the crowds. The crowds always looked so unbearable, and that was the thing I was really dreading the most about being there. But really, for the bulk of the night, the crowds weren't too awful. Our pen stayed relatively empty until maybe 9:00, and by that time we felt we were getting close, so who cares? And it was also pretty cool to see so many people from all over the world, all packed in together for the same celebration. For example, we had people surrounding us from Tokyo, Harlem, Chile, and Brooklyn. That's an eclectic bunch!

Enjoying the open space in our pen early in the evening

The crowds in front of us as the night went on

The crowds behind us

Me amongst the crowds

What was far worse than the crowds was really the cold. It got so cold that Jeff and Jaime left at about 7:30, because they felt there was no way they would make it until midnight. Eric and I took turns losing our "mental toughness" and doubting that we would make it either. It was the kind of cold that makes your face hurt if you take it out of your scarf for even a second. I spent probably a solid half hour contemplating how you know the difference between your feet just being really cold, and actually being in danger of losing a toe to frostbite. My right foot was making me pretty nervous, but I just kept wiggling my toes and hoping for the best. I figured if I could move them, there must still be blood flow so I was okay.

Between 9:00 and 10:00 was the hardest hour to get through. 9:00 hit and we realized that although we had already been out there for 3.5 hours, we still had another 3 hours to go. By 10:00, two hours seemed like nothing, but it was tough getting to that point. We were tired and shivering and the crowds were getting a little pushier. But, we made it. One thing that kept me going was thinking about all those years I've watched this on TV, and how I thought I'd never be there. I thought those people were crazy to be out in the cold and crowds. It made me realize that it was so surreal that there I was, in the midst of the event I had always watched on TV. How cool to be in the place that the whole world is watching!

Another thing that helped pass the time was the giveaways. Every so often, Times Square workers would come along and pass things out to the crowd. We got a blue Nivea hat and Nivea lip gloss, 3 Musketeers pom poms with Mint 3 Musketeers (which are SO GOOD, and really good cold! So if you try them, try putting them in the fridge first...they're like mint chocolate chip ice cream!), Pepsi scarves, and blue balloons with silver streamers. The balloons really made things look festive!

A sea of blue hats and balloons in front of us

The view behind us

At long last it was 11:00 and we had done our last "X hour to go" countdown. The next hour passed steadily and then it was FINAL COUNTDOWN TIME! The moment we had all been waiting for!

This is it! The ball is dropping!

VIDEO: The final 15 seconds of 2008!


Confetti falling on Times Square

A New Year smooch

And then it was over. We had waited all those hours for one minute of celebration! The streets quickly began to clear out as they played some great music: Auld Lang Syne (of course), New York, It's a Wonderful World, Somewhere Over the Rainbow (the Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole version, which I love), etc. They had played Imagine in the last few minutes before the ball drop too, which I also loved. Everyone sang along and it was really nice. So, now that it was over, Eric and I snapped a couple more "proof that we were really there till the end" pics and made our way home. And walking brought feeling back into my toes! Halleluia.

Me amidst the revelry

Hooray! We made it!

When we got home, Jeff and Jaime could not believe that we had made it until the end. They were kind enough to go out and get us some pizza because we were STARVING. When they got back we all ate, drank champagne, and watched the TV coverage of the countdown that they had recorded for us. It was a great end to the evening!

So happy to be in a warm house!

On New Year's Day, we all slept in a bit again and then the boys got donuts for everyone. Jeff and Jaime went out to do some sightseeing in the afternoon while Eric and I stayed in and did some work around the house and preparations for our trip to Florida. When our guests returned, we all watched some football and then Eric and I made dinner. Jeff had bet us when they left Times Square that we would not make it until the midnight. The stakes? Steaks! He said he would buy us a steak dinner if we made it. So, he made good on his promise and bought us filet mignon which Eric grilled on the Foreman, and I made mashed potatoes, salad, and Texas toast. Delicious! After dinner we enjoyed some hot chocolate spiked with Bailey's Irish Creme while we played Catch Phrase. And then, it was off to bed.

Jeff and Jaime left early this morning and Eric is back at work today. Tomorrow we leave bright and early for our week in Florida, which will be so nice (and WARM!). We had such a great New Year's. Even though the time in Times Square was difficult, unpleasantly cold, and crowded, and we say we will never do it again, we're glad to have done it once. It's a nice check off the Lifetime To Do list!

Happy New Year!

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