How to Prepare for Your New Year’s Celebration at Times Square

Everyone knows that the annual New Year’s celebration at Times Square in New York is the biggest party of the year. Crowds of all ages and backgrounds gather together to watch the ever-famous ball drop and gaze at the fantastic array of fireworks lighting up the sky. People sing, they cheer, they throw confetti and they pop champagne. The celebration lasts for hours, and watching your television each year, you’d think it was by far the most exciting place to be for New Year’s. Yet exciting as it may appear, the actual situation down in the streets is a bit less magical than it may seem on TV.

If this is the year you plan on making your personal debut at the Times Square celebration, here’s a few tips to ensure that your experience is just as fantastic as you’ve always imagined it would be…

1. DRESS WARM. No matter how “temperate” the weatherman may say the climate is going to be…or how “uncharacteristically warm” it is outside, you WILL be cold. Unless it’s 70 degrees outside, it’s far colder than your body is accustomed to experiencing standing still for up to 8 hours. Make sure you bring a hat and gloves, as well as a heavy coat and scarf. Dress as though you were going to stand in an igloo…because that’s how it’s going to feel.

2. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. Because the officials on the street are trying to squeeze so many people into the limited space alotted for the celebration, they will often not allow you to sit down. And once you’re inside, you can not leave until the gates are re-opened, so if your feet hurt, you have no choice but to deal with the pain or stand barefoot on the not-so-clean New York City street.

3. PACK TISSUES. With the wind in your face for hours, you’re likely to get a bit sniffly, and there’s no where to go to get tissue if you need it. Also, once inside the gates, you’re not allowed to leave…so if you do absolutely have to go to the bathroom, you’re going in the street…and some extra tissue may come in handy.

4. GET THERE ON TIME. Check the schedule (http://www.timessquarenyc.org/nye/nye.html) and find out what time the gates are opening. You don’t want to get there too early, because the earlier you come, the longer you have to stand. But at the same time, you want to get there in time to secure a good space, and in time to run out and use the bathroom before they lock you in.

5. CHOOSE YOUR SPACE WISELY. If you are the type who has to go to the bathroom frequently, you don’t want to be too close to the ball, because these are the gates that are going to fill up, and therefore lock, first. Try standing in one of the areas farther back which will stay open the longest. Also keep in mind where you need to go after the ball drops. If you’re heading to Penn Station or areas west of the Square, you’ll want to stay toward the west side of the ball. If you’re going to Grand Central or areas east of the Square, you should stand toward the east side of the ball. Once it drops, police start limiting exit ways, so you’re generally only allowed to exit right near where you came in.

6. BRING A CAMERA. The one thing that really makes the whole trip worth it is being able to tell people you went. Make sure to take lots of shots of you, your friends, and all the random people you meet that night. Some of them may end up being your friends in the end…or at least your drinking buddies for the night.

7. BRING YOUR CELL PHONE. With so many people, it’s hard for officials to keep site of everything that is going on. Besides calling everyone you know to wish them a Happy New Year, you’ll also want to be able to contact the police in case there is a problem within your gate.

8. DO NOT BRING DRUGS OR ALCOHOL. Before entering the gate you will be patted down by a police officer and your bags will be checked. Any alcohol will be confiscated and if you are found in posession of drugs or any illegal substances, you will be spending your night in the much less exciting local jail.

9. BRING FOOD. Standing around for 8 hours WILL make you hungry. Make sure that you bring in lots of snacks to keep you satisfied throughout the night. You’ll also want to bring some water…just don’t drink too much too fast or you’ll be stuck needing to use a bathroom for hours.

10. DO NOT BRING YOUR CHILDREN. Even adults run out of patience, there’s no way your kids are going to last the night. Besides, despite the rules, there will be a lot of drinking and cursing and kissing….etc.

11. BRING A PEN. You’re likely to meet lots of new people while huddling around in your gate…so if you don’t have a cell phone to store numbers in, you’re going to want a pen to record the names and phone numbers of all your newfound friends. After all, Times Square is all about the memories.

New Year’s Eve at Times Square can be an experience of a lifetime, just as long as you’re prepared. Yes it’s cold, you’re standing for up to 8 hours straight, you can not leave to use the bathroom or get food, and you are not permitted to drink. But at the same time, you’re involved in a piece of history, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people, and despite all the typical New York-esque complaining, you’re surrounded by people who are all there for the same reason…to party. Good luck and have a Ball!

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