I live in New York so I should try everything. Going to see the ball drop at Times Square on New Year’s Eve is not something that you catch locals doing! This is why we are not normal NYC residents.
We left our apartment at 1pm and got to the 1 train stop at 42nd St around 1:30pm. From here, you can see the Times Square “bow tie” but it is all fenced off where you cannot get in. The bowtie is where Broadway and 7th Avenue cross between 46th St and 44th St.
Here is where the fun begins. “Where am I supposed to go so I can get into the bowtie for New Year’s Eve?” No one working the event has that answer. Not any of the officials, not the news anchors you see, not the businesses nearby. Ask anyone and everyone will tell you the same answer of “I don’t know.” I am going to be pretty detailed with street names and cardinal directions. If you cannot follow along, please enjoy the map below! I’m also referencing time stamps which go along with our YouTube video below.
We walk east to 6th Avenue (because all of 7th Avenue and Broadway are closed) and we walked up to 49th Street. (0:25) There is supposed to be a security checkpoint up here but we walked on 49th from 6th ave over to 7th ave and did not see any checkpoint. So we walk down 7th and got stuck in a “bull pin” of people between 47th and 48th streets. Asking everyone, “Is this the checkpoint?” No one with answers but plenty of confused and angry people pushing forward. The problem is, we could not even see the ball from this point of view so we really did not want to get stuck here.
We crossed the street (still on 7th Avenue on the west side) where we were fenced in. Still unsure where we needed to be, suddenly the cops removed the barricades and a running of bulls commenced. People flooded the streets still in use by vehicles and now were unable to move due to thousands of people surrounding them. (1:05)
By now, we have slowly baby-stepped into an area where a big TKTS sign obstructed our view. (2:00) We needed to move to the left. So, anytime there was a shift in the crowd (cops moving us or cars needing to pass), we pushed ourselves to the left as if we were being pushed. We were able to clear that sign.
Marlyse saw an NBC reporter looking at the crowd and talking with people, asking where they were from. Every answer was another location and the reporter seemed uninterested. (3:00) Mar knew they were looking for someone from NYC. She made eye contact with the reporter, they asked and found out we were from New York and they interviewed her putting her on national TV! If you want to be on TV, wear a costume, be overly enthusiastic, stalk down reporters and talk to them or be a New Yorker.
Then, we saw the bull pin we were first waiting in on the East side of the street actually WAS released to go into the bowtie. Then they fenced off that area and then released at least 7 blocks of pedestrians to fill the street where we were. I asked numerous cops if they were going to close the streets. They all said no.
They do not close the STREETS but the close the AVENUES! Wrong question I guess.
What should I do before getting into the mob of people?
Go to the bathroom. Empty every part of your body and as for preparation, do not drink a lot of anything on the 31st. It will be cold out so you will not use much energy nor get really dehydrated.
What should I take with me?
I saw people with their iPads taking photos. Don’t be that person. Use a camera. Plus, you will have 6 strangers touching you at any given point. And those 6 strangers changes out at least every hour so you will have at least 100 people that have touched your body or grazed your pockets. You may get to know them but not enough to know if you are getting pick-pocketed. Wear a jacket with inside pockets and keep all items in the inside pockets that you want to keep.
Bring snacks! Beef jerky, nuts, fruit snacks but nothing messy. I brought a Subway sandwich and still had them put tomatoes and Southwest sauce on it. That is messy when you are (again) touching so many people. I ate it anyway and people gave me some space. I wore a Camelbak filled with water (do not do alcohol, as cool as you think you will be sneaking alcohol, you are standing for 10+ hours with nowhere to go).
Take a tall folding stool that can fold up and you could hook it on your belt or something. I brought pain medicine for my back and legs just in case (I am sounding like I am 90…)
When should I get there?
We got there at 1pm and I think next year we will get there at noon. Get into an area and look for the availability to advance to the bowtie. If you are not in dire need of being in the bowtie, I could see getting there at 2pm.
Let me know if you plan on going this year or your experiences while you were there!