Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year 2008 from TIMES SQUARE

Sooooooo...We were able to make our way onto Times Square with a million other revelers without waiting all day like most of them did (we heard people staked out their spots beginning at around 11 AM). We stayed in a hotel on Times Square and were able to get into the square at around 10 PM by tipping a hotel employee :-)

We heard Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock, The Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, amongst others entertain us while we waited for the famous ball to drop.

Here's an article about the event:

New Yorkers welcome 2008
12:53 AM EST, January 1, 2008

On the 100th anniversary of the Times Square ball drop, more than a million revelers jammed the area last night to watch the giant crystal ball slither down a flagpole and usher in the new year.

A century ago the tradition began with a 700-pound ball of wood and iron, lit with 100 25-watt incandescent bulbs.

This year's event features an energy-efficient sphere clad in Waterford crystal, with 9,576 light-emitting diodes capable of generating more than 16 million colors.

Crowds gathered hours before midnight despite temperatures in the 30s. Pandemonium reigned as partygoers carried glowing wands, sported gold metallic hats, and wore sun glasses that spelled out 2008.

Police herded the onlookers into pens, with the earliest arrivals getting the best view of the big event.

Diana and David Sutton, of Fort Myers, Fla., and their three young children had been waiting since 10 a.m. for the big event. They bought plastic chairs at a nearby Toys "R" Us.

"It's such an experience," David Sutton said. "The kids are behaving; they're loving this. They've never seen snow before, and they got to see that, too, earlier this week."

Milwaukee resident Jennelle Joset and her mother, Wanda Bowers, had been standing around since 1 p.m., wearing hats with big plastic wheels of cheese to show their Wisconsin pride.

"I had to do this once, to see it once before I die," Bowers said.

But not everyone was as ambitious.

A couple from Switzerland, Oliver Bucli, 29 and his girlfriend Andrea Wald, 21, said the challenge was too daunting.

"We didn't want to wait six hours in the cold without toilets," said Bucli.

Hilary Landey, a sales consultant from London who came with friends, said she had spent the week touring the city and considered the ball drop the highlight. "It's a laugh without a drink. It's cheerful," she said as she sipped soda and chuckled with a police officer.

Her friend Angela Barry, also of London, said, "It's such a wild good time."

Newly minted police officer Karolina Wierzchowska, was chosen to push the button to make the ball cascade down the 77-foot flagpole atop 1 Times Square.

Wierzchowska is a Polish immigrant who worked at Ground Zero, served with the National Guard in Iraq and was valedictorian of the latest Police Academy class.

As part of the now familiar post-Sept. 11 security preparations, a large swath of midtown Manhattan around Times Square was blocked off to drivers in the late afternoon. Workers welded shut mailboxes, trash containers and manholes in the blocks around Times Square.

There were strict rules for revelers: no alcohol, large bags or backpacks -- and no re-entry after leaving the viewing area. The few public restrooms were closed by the afternoon.

The entertainment lineup included Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest handling the countdown to 2008 and musical performances by Carrie Underwood, Miley Cyrus and other acts. Even New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez showed up, shaking hands and posing for photos as he waited for midnight.

The Times Square Alliance, the business group running the event, handed out thousands of balloons and mittens to the crowd, which waited for hours in chilly winter weather for the main event. The confetti included pieces of paper with the new year's wishes and resolutions of people who submitted them in advance.

Diana and David Sutton, of Fort Myers, Fla., and their three young children had been waiting for the ball drop since 10 a.m. They bought plastic chairs at a nearby Toys "R" Us and bundled up with Spider-Man hats as they waited.

"It's such an experience," David Sutton said. "The kids are behaving; they're loving this. They've never seen snow before, and they got to see that, too, earlier this week."

Chase Pellegrin, 18, his sister Chandler, 13, and their parents were steps away from their hotel but didn't want to lose their viewing spots.

"I'm just not drinking anything. No water, nothing. I don't want to worry about it," said Pellegrin, of Covington, La.

By 12:25 a.m. Tuesday, crowds had largely dispersed from Times Square and a massive cleanup operation was under way as sanitation crews cleared up the confetti, plastic cups, gold streamers, water bottles and other party errata left behind by the revelers.

Brian Hawkes, visiting from Birmingham, England, said he was impressed by how fast everything was getting picked up.

"It's amazing how much garbage people leave," he said. "I wouldn't want this job to clean up after them."

The first celebration in the area, in 1904, was held by New York Times owner Adolph Ochs, who was building a new headquarters in the neighborhood.

The city had just renamed the oddly shaped square in the newspaper's honor, and at midnight Ochs had pyrotechnists illuminate his building at 1 Times Square with fireworks shot from street level.

Three years later, when the city banned fireworks, Ochs brought in the iron and wooden ball, to be lowered from the building's flagpole at midnight.

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