For the last few years, my family and I visited New York City to celebrate New Year’s Eve. This year, our celebrations will be strictly limited to our living room thanks to the pandemic. So, I thought remembering our first New Year’s Eve trip may fill up some of the wanderlust I’ve felt since this whole thing began. This trip inspired my family to start doing family vacations. The years after, my dad and brother joined us for another New York trip, and the whole family visited Ireland the year after. Unfortunately, any plans we had for this year had been diced. I’m just glad I have the photos and memories of these trips to keep me going!
New York on New Year’s Eve
During our first trip, it was just my mom, sister, and I. We were there for an extended weekend. We felt dead set on jamming all of the New York highlights into our trip. It was also the first time we’d been to the city during winter. Although it was milder than our following trips, we splurged at a nearby winter accessories store on 7th Ave. While my mom and sister picked up a pair of wool hats, I grabbed a pair of luxurious mittens (I could write a paragraph about how wonderful these mittens are — seriously, sometimes my hands get sweaty). Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the shop, but definitely keep your eyes peeled for extra-warm looking hats, scarves, and mittens near the theatre district!
We spent most of our trip finding unique breakfast diners and wandering around the city. In just a few days, we managed to squeeze in a horse-carriage ride, saw a peaceful protest in a local park, and took a long walk around Central Park’s lake. Our wanderings took us to Chinatown’s Columbus Park to find a vibrant community playing table games. Plus, we visited the then-brand-new Second Avenue Subway Station, a welcome reprieve from being on our feet.
Times Square on New Year’s Eve
Thanks to my mom’s employment at an NYC-based company, she had racked up enough Hilton points to get us a hotel a short walk away from Times Square. When we stepped out onto the streets on New Year’s Eve morning, the streetscape had been completely transformed. There were police everywhere, with news vans parked on every corner. Barricades blocked the street from any cross traffic. The closer we got to Times Square, the thicker the crowds got. There were people already staking their claim to see the Ball at 10:00am, making for a grueling 14-hour wait.
A Happy Coincidence
Although we had originally planned on seeing the Ball that night, my mom, sister, and I were completely disinterested in spending one whole day in New York just waiting around. We decided to try to figure something else to do that night. The three of us spent the day exploring Chinatown and LIttle Italy. We ended the night in an Irish pub with no clear plan in sight. With minutes to spare, we decided to return to our hotel to try and see the Ball from our room.
As we got closer to our hotel, the barricades became increasingly more secure. By the time we had reached 7th Ave, we needed a police escort to cross the street to get to our hotel. As the officer led us through the crowds, he and my mom started chatting about how we were liking New York, what our plans for the evening were, and where we were from. As it turns out, he had visited our hometown quite a few times! Halfway across the street, he stopped us and told us he could try to get us closer to the Ball.
A Once-In-A-Lifetime Chance
The officer led us behind the police barricade giving us the OK to the other police officers standing guard. Block after block passed as we sped by what must have at least been a million people crammed onto 7th Ave. My sister and I stole shocked looks at one another the closer we got. After a few conversations with his superiors, he got us a whole TEN BLOCKS closer to the Ball, the closest they would allow civilians to be! We were right there!! He got us so close we were able to see the confetti. We sang Auld Lang Syne and New York, New York with the crowd and danced in the snow, thanking the officer profusely the whole time. It was undeniably the most magical New Year’s Eve I have ever had, to this day.
After the New Year broke, the crowds quickly dispersed, and our officer friend wished us a happy New Year and a good evening. Discarded New Year’s hats and streamers littered the street and passer-bys shouted “Happy New Year!” to the sky. We knew we had experienced something we would certainly never be able to again. The whole experience felt altogether surreal. Fortunately, I had been videoing our trip the entire time and was able to capture everything on camera. The video is attached below for those interested in watching!
Although I don’t remember the officer’s name, he gave me and my family a New Year’s Eve celebration I don’t think any of us will forget. This year, if you get the chance, be sure to tell our public workers thank you for everything they’re doing. Remember to be kind and extend a helping hand whenever you can. Although we may not be able to celebrate like normal, the holidays can still be full of love and support. Happy holidays and warm wishes to all!