If you are anything like me, you spend every New Years Eve watching the ball drop in Times Square on TV. Usually I’m curled up on the couch in my pj’s eating snacks and enjoying the hours of concerts and shows leading up to midnight. NYC is the only spot I love watching every New Years Eve. Even though tons of cities have parties, concerts and events, to me Times Square is the best! I remember growing up we always watched the ball drop on TV, and I love continuing that tradition every year.
12 years ago I got to experience it in real life. Yes, that’s right, be in Times Square when the ball drops on New Years Eve! For those of you wondering what the experience is like I thought I would share all the details with you.
On December 31, 2004 we were visiting New Jersey/New York from Florida (where we lived at the time). My husband, brother in law and I decided to head into Manhattan on that morning with the hopes to see the ball drop that night. This was before iPhones and the ability to regularly check google for answers, so we just figured we would show up and see what it was like. We walked through Times Square at about 10am and there were already people sitting on the curb holding their spot. We thought it was a bit early to pick our spot so we walked around for a while. When we came back around 3pm they started putting up barricades to open up the streets to people and close off traffic. We realized this was it and we should get our spot. So without proper preparation (you know, maybe going to the restroom, or getting something to eat before hours of waiting) we followed the crowd heading into the barricades. For safety, police search through bags before letting you in. There is a list of things you can’t bring in like alcohol. The thing is, once you’re in, you’re in and you can’t leave. If you leave you loose your spot. So if you have to go to the restroom, you have to hold it. If you’re hungry, too bad. Local places like McDonalds had employees out taking people’s orders but I was wondering how they knew who to bring the food back to since there were SO many people everywhere. Anyway, we were in, we could see the ball, although it was far away.
This was our view that night.
We were on the opposite side of Times Square so pretty far back, we were too far back to see any concerts or anything going on. But we could see the ball and we were in Times Square, so that’s was the main thing. There were people everywhere. We just stood there for hours and hours and hours. Some people sat on the ground and played cards, at one point there was a couple laying on the ground laying on my feet. I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t really the fun you see people having on TV, but it was exciting to be there. The 3 of us agreed that the people you see on TV must be having fake fun, because that’s a really long time to be standing there. Finally at 11pm it gets exciting because you know the big moment is coming. We were cold but excited to be there.
Finally 1 minute left till midnight. The countdown!!!!
The big moment! It was 2005! They start playing “New York New York” by Frank Sinatra and it makes the moment feel so special. You know that at that very moment so many people are watching the very place on TV where you are standing, and all that waiting suddenly feels kind of worth that moment.
So much confetti falls!
Then all the sudden the million people that were standing in Times Square all start to leave. Everyone is pushing different directions. It’s a bit crazy!!!
The mess is crazy after everyone leaves. The confetti and trash everywhere is insane. Yet by morning they had it all cleaned up.
Whenever anyone asks me if it was a fun experience, I tell them it’s a once in a lifetime experience. I’m so glad we got to do it and experience that, but I probably wouldn’t do it a second time. I would also mention that it’s really difficult to find a restroom after that. A lot of places are either closed, or closed their restrooms to the public since so many people are drunk. When we finally found a restroom in a Walgreens the line was probably 15 people to get in. I guess if you have a hotel in Manhattan you can just head back to your hotel, but we were taking the train back to New Jersey that night. I would recommend getting a hotel nearby or even in Times Square so you can see everything from your room! Next time perhaps we will do that!
The following year we returned to NYC but went to Manhattan a few days after the ball drop. This was January 2006.
This is what Times Square looked like in January 2006. Pretty different from today. Many of the store and restaurants have changed, as well as the billboards! Also notice some of the confetti still on the curb.
My attempt at a selfie back in 2006: )
I bought a pair of these tacky glasses from a vendor in Times Square. Hey, gotta get a souvenir!
If you’ve never been to Times Square and have only seen the ball drop on TV you expect the “ball” to be huge. It stays in Times Square all year round, so even if you visit in the summer you can see it. But try not to miss it, because it’s so far up it looks quite small in person. On TV they talk about how much it weighs and how big it is, so I guess I was expecting it to be really big in person. But it’s so far up it seems small when you’re on the ground.
Here are some photos from the past few years in Times Square I’ve taken. Notice the ball and the year at the top of the building that has all the screens in each photo.
Well I hope this post gave you a good idea of what it’s like to be in Times Square on New Years Eve. If you are planning on doing this I would recommend doing lots of research and being prepared. Since my experience was 12 years ago I’m sure things have changed a bit and there are probably tons of resources out there giving you tips on what to do.
Thanks for reading! Also, if you’ve ever done New Years Eve in Times Square leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you’re experience was like!