Come new year's eve and every news channel keeps beaming images of crowds gathered to ring in the New year at different landmarks all around the world. Times Square in New York is one such popular spot for revelers. This time around S wanted to experience firsthand the crazy crowd at New year's eve in Times Square and so there we were waiting with millions in the cold for the iconic LED lit crystal ball to be lowered or dropped to set the new year rolling.
The last day of the year started out on a relaxed note. A lunch with my dear friend V and her husband in Saravana Bhavan took us back to India for a while. Given the huge number of Indian populace that inhabits New York and its surroundings, it was not odd to find a host of Indian restaurants waiting to tickle the taste-buds. Then it was time for a leisurely stroll through Central park, the lung space in the city of skyscrapers. Even on a wintry afternoon, there were quite a few fitness enthusiasts running along unmindful of the chilly breeze. The park looked more grey and brown than green and the many small lakes that dotted it seemed to have a touch of ice. Ducks were huddled around in non-icy parts of the lake.
Birds chirped and fluttered around while chipmunks foraged for nuts discarded by passers-by. A portion of the park was getting ready to host the midnight run, an annual fun run at midnight on new year's eve. As we walked, admiring the refreshing change the park felt amidst the concrete jungle, we even got to enjoy snow flurries. Specks of snow floating around as the chilly breeze kept blowing them all around made it a walk to remember. We got a taste of old world charm too, horse carriages carrying around visitors on a joy ride plied about their designated path through the park.
By sunset we walked to Rockefeller Center for the top of the deck view of the New York Skyline. The Christmas decor was all lit up and people were clicking away pictures. The Swarovski crystal chandelier that adorns the stairwell is simply dazzling. After a security check, we queued up to take the lift to the 67th floor for the top of the deck view of the city renowned as the "City that never sleeps". The sky had hues of orange and pink while the lights of the skyscrapers began outlining the towering concrete jungle. The result was a spectacular view of New York and her famed skyline, with the Brooklyn bridge and Statue of Liberty in the distant background. The cold breeze we felt on the deck of the 69th floor had us holding on tightly to our caps. While we had known and expected it to be crowded in Times Square, we never felt it would start filling up as early as 5pm in the evening.
After admiring the skyline we headed to the ground and our feet made their way towards Times Square, it was only 6pm which meant the ball had been raised. But the crowds had filled up the 7th Avenue as far as 8 blocks.As we patiently waited in the queue for the security check to go towards Times Square, hawkers with tickets for clubs and other hotels nearby tried to ply their wares promising us quicker entry and better view of the event. The queue inched its way towards the Square and by 8pm we could see the ball shining atop the roof of One Times Square. The hours before the drop were dotted with hourly countdowns for the arrival of the new year and the crowd cheered along and blew trumpets. The atmosphere was really charged, the hordes of people meant we didn't feel too cold although the mercury kept plummeting towards 27F or -3C Closer to the ball, live music performance kept up the spirits, this year the star attraction was Miley Cyrus. As the Cinderella hour neared, the crowd began cheering loudly, people started passing around glitter paper. At 11:59pm the final countdown began and the lowering of the ball started. When the crowd counted down to 1 in unison, balloon were set free, confetti was dropped from nearby buildings and fireworks went off in the distant sky. All around people were greeting and exchanging wishes with their loved ones. It was adieu 2013 and welcome 2014 :-)
After one last walk around Times Square we grabbed some food and headed to Grand Central for a dekko at one of the most filmed terminal that has been featured in numerous movies. The GCT as it is fondly known is huge and anyone entering it feels that this is the gateway to the promised land. When we heard announcements that the GCT would close for the day at 2am in the morning and all of us were asked to exit the building, we found ourselves on our way to the airport to check-in for our flight back home to Portland. We saw the first sunrise of 2014 from the Newark airport terminal waiting to board the airplane. The flight back home was like a flight in dreams for we caught up on our missed sleep. It was a once in a lifetime experience, a crazy all nighter of sorts. And we landed in Portland to enjoy a sunny New year's noon.
The image of Grand Central and 2014 are from Google images.
Click on the photos to see enlarged images.
Click on the photos to see enlarged images.