A Trip Down Memory Lane: Celebrating NYE in NYC

Picture taken atop the Empire State Building

Happy New Year everyone! I can't believe 2017 is actually here !

2016 was a year of stretching for me- challenging and full of transitions... but also filled with new opportunities ,freedom, growth and lots of learning! I finished my masters program this year (hooray for finally wrapping up my longggg academic career lol!), was involved in the planting of a new church in Union City, celebrated three years together with my boyfriend, became the most fit and strong I've ever been (shoutout to my TFW familia!- I am loving my fitness journey with them!), made new friends, took my blog to the next level, made some big decisions regarding my career, and was fortunate enough to travel to Chicago, Yosemite, Russia and Finland for the first time ever! I look forward to all of the exciting new places and adventures 2017 holds in store .

In honor of the holiday that just passed, I thought I would take a trip (literally) down memory lane and dedicate a post to spending New Year's eve in New York City, 4 years ago and watching the ball drop in Times Square. This trip was easily one of my favorite New Year's eve experiences ever. Like most of you, I had grown up watching the ball drop in Times Square to ring in each new year and I had never in my wildest dreams imagined I would actually get to experience it for myself. It was totally a dream come true.

Just outside the meatpacking district in Manhattan


Central Park during the winter

Chelsea market- a foodie's dream! All decorated for the holidays

Just a heads up!- The below pictures are pretty old and the quality is not so great. This trip was before I got my super handy-dandy sony and way before I ever considered blogging lol

Our story begins New Year's eve day, 2012. Our group arrived to Times Square at about 2 PM, wearing at least 4-5 layers (typical Californians-can't handle the cold hah) and ready to wait out the solid 10 hours until midnight. We arrived that early because we wanted a good spot up close to the stage and a nice view of the infamous ball. There are literally an estimated 1 million people that show up NYE to experience Times Square at midnight, so the earlier we arrived, the better.

Picture of us when we first got to Times Square

We got shuffled around quite a bit as the city was preparing for the event, but when we finally settled into our designated spot, we got pretty comfortable and immediately started brainstorming/ coming up with games we could play to occupy our time. What we didn't realize until we got all settled was that we would be unable to move from that spot until after the ball dropped. City officials and cops placed metal fences around us (kind of like the ones they put up at A's games when there's a long line to buy tickets or get into the stadium) and enclosed us within the fencing. No one was allowed to leave (unless they wanted to lose their spot)- not even for a restroom or food break. For lack of better words, we sort of felt barricaded... literally like we were on a time out, a million of us awaiting our punishment lol. When we asked a nearby cop why the set up was so odd and strict, he explained that they needed to create clear pathways (areas outside the fencing) in case of a fire or some kind of emergency so people could escape quickly. There were cops blocking every street/entry way into Times Square so it was pretty impossible (or so we thought) to leave and sneak back in hours later. Plus we didn't want to give up our space as we had a good view of the ball dropping.

So, we sat ourselves down and bought some pizza off of a dominos worker walking down one of the clear pathways. Apparently only workers from the businesses located in Times Square were allowed in and out of the area so they could close up shop or conduct whatever business was needed.

Several hours passed (by then it was probably 7 - 8 PM or so) and we were starting to get angsty. Some of us girls had to use the bathroom, others of us were thirsty.... and most of us were getting hungry again. We had pretty much had it with sitting and waiting around at his point.One of the ladies asked a nearby police officer how NYPD was able to patrol sooo many people and keep them within the confines of the fencing ( there were several people walking in the "clear pathways" at this point.. either defeated by the long wait or sneaking out with the intent to sneak back in just before midnight). He turned to all of us, probably sensing the feeling of desperation on our faces, and gave us a tip.

He let us know that it was physically and logistically impossible to honestly keep an eye on THAT many people and suggested we go to a nearby restaurant to kill some time- get dinner, use the bathroom, hydrate- then come back exactly around 11:45 PM to 11:50 PM. By that time, he assured us, most officers would be so mesmerized and distracted by the events of NYE going on in Times Square, that we would be able to sneak back into the area with no problem. After some thoughtful consideration (all of 5-10 minutes), we left the fenced area and nearly skipped to the nearest eatery, so excited at the information our new friend had just given us. We spent the next 4 or 5 hours indoors (we were SO thankful to be warm) watching NYE festivities going on all around the world on the restaurant's big screen TVs while satisfying our appetites.

Picture of myself in front of Times Square

When 11:40 PM rolled around, we decided it would be best to begin our short trek back to Times Square. We were honestly pretty nervous, there were still a lot of cops blocking the entrances to Times Square and we were afraid we wouldn't be let back in. And our "friend" in blue from earlier, was no where to be found!

We chose a random side street leading back into Times Square, prayed for a New Year's miracle, and walked towards the fencing blocking off Times Square. To be honest, I don't even remember if there were officers patrolling this area or not, but lo and behold, we somehow made it back in! And not only were we back in Times Square, we were able to go return to our original spot with no issues or problems. It was honestly so awesome that we didn't have to wait the entire 10 hours for the ball to drop. Most of the other folks waiting for midnight were not as fortunate as us and were unable to leave their area at all (no doubt, with stricter cops patrolling them). We were super thankful for our break.

Then, one of my favorite parts of the night occurred (next to the ball dropping, of course). Different individuals started shouting out the city/ country they were from. We heard voices, both male and female, screaming out ..." South Africa, Mexico, London, California, Australia..." etc.etc. As an international business major bit with the travel bug, it was such a special moment being surrounded by so many people from all over the world celebrating the same holiday, simply thankful to be welcoming 2013 in famous Times Square. Although there were so many people there from all different parts of the globe- with varying beliefs, faiths , languages, cultures, traditions, etc... it was awesome to come together for the shared and communal celebration that a new year brings- new beginnings, fresh starts, and, of course, all kinds of awaited adventures. So much of the world comes together as one on NYE- and this was the perfect representation of that.

The ball dropping and the celebration occurring !

Above is a video I was able to take of the countdown !

This New Year's eve experience will go down as one of my absolute favorites! If any of you ever have the opportunity to be a part of this special night in NYC in the years to come, absolutely take it! It is worth every struggle and waited hour !

Special thanks to my cousin Elaine and all her girlfriends for inviting me on this trip! It is, without a doubt, one of my most cherished memories <3

#NYE #newyearseve #newyears #NYC #timessquare #balldrop #holidays #NYEinNYC

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