For over 100 years, a ball – a 12’ wide, geodesic sphere, actually -- has been lowered on a flag pole above One Times Square at midnight on the 31st of December to signal the end of one year and the beginning of the next. While over 1,000,000 revelers withstand freezing temperatures just to be part of this annual tradition, tens of millions watch the process on television from locations all around the world.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Revelers start arriving late in the afternoon on New Year's Eve. By 4:00 p.m. Times Square (42nd to 47th Streets, between Broadway & 7th Ave.) is fully closed to traffic.
The celebration begins with the lighting and raising of the New Year’s Eve Ball 70 feet up the flagpole. Live entertainment (check www.timessquarenyc.org for this year’s schedule) and free handouts (hats and balloons) are provided.
The sixty-second countdown to the New Year begins. When the ball reaches the bottom of the pole, its lights are dimmed, confetti is released from area rooftops, and a fireworks show begins.
1. Have a plan and arrive early. Regardless of weather, there will be large crowds. The best place to stand to see the ball drop is on Broadway between 43rd and 50th Streets or on 7th Avenue from 43rd to 59th Streets.
There are large video screens set up 1 Times Square, and on Broadway at 50th Street, 52nd Street, 54th Street, and 58th Street. If you require handicapped access/ seating, go to the northwest corner of 43rd Street where there is limited space available.
2. Don’t even THINK of driving. Police will begin closing down the neighborhood streets between 3 – 4 p.m. Plan to take public transportation and check www.mta.org for station closings and recommendations.
3. There are no public restrooms in Times Square. If necessary, go to the nearest Starbucks and buy a latte in exchange for use of the restrooms or try the nearby Port Authority at 8th Avenue and 42 St.
4. Don’t BYOB. Public drinking is prohibited in New York City. Police will confiscate visible alcohol. There are many nearby establishments where you are welcome to buy a drink and warm up. However, unless you have a friend hold your space, it will surely be gone when you return.
5. Dress for the weather. Just because there are over a million people surrounding you, you can not plan on all those strangers insulating you from the frigid December temperatures (wind can blast down Broadway and leave you chilled to the bone). Pick up a bunch of disposable handwarmers (see link below) and tuck them in your gloves, boots, and/ or pockets.
6. Embrace the holiday spirit. Some people may be obnoxious, but others will be gracious. Consider being one of the latter and remember the spirit of the season. It’s hard to stay upbeat in cold weather with a million people pushing and shivering around you. Remember you’re all hoping for a fun night and a joyous new year!
7. Consider making reservations at a restaurant that offers views of the Square. Here are my two suggestions:
The Broadway Lounge at the Marriott Marquis (Broadway, between 45th and 46th Streets) offers an eighth floor view that can’t be beat. My kids never tire of the views there. The View Restaurant and Lounge, a revolving restaurant at the top of the Marquis, offers a stunning, ever-changing view, but you’ll be up too high to really see what’s happening down on the street. Still, it will be warm, and as you wade through the crowds to get to the hotel, you will have “experienced” New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
The Olive Garden at Broadway and 46th Street has a terrific second floor location with outstanding views. Getting a view in the right direction will be your challenge, but it will be worth it. Call restaurants in advance for information on their reservation policy, New Year’s Eve seatings, and menu options. If you plan to stay at your table for a long time, be prepared to leave a generous tip.
8. There are no tickets required to stand in Times Square and watch the evening unfold. Standing room is first come, first served.
9. Want to help out with planning, setting up for, cleaning up after, or running this spectacular, all-American event? If you would like to help out, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. Bring a camera! I am a formerly clueless photographer who now takes great pix, thanks to my new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20/B 10.1 MP Digital Camera! If I can zoom and click and adjust the flash, then I'm sure you can, too!
Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!