I can see why people would want to spend New Year’s Eve in New York City — the place is shrouded in “wintertime charm,” there will be crazy parties throughout the five boroughs, and bragging rights are acquired from attending the biggest New Year’s Eve event in town — the Times Square Ball Drop. But this annual shindig might be the biggest shitshow NYC has to offer, and here’s why:
New York City becomes a terrible place.
As though this city weren’t expensive enough, hotel rates skyrocket — those with views overlooking Times Square will run you more than $1,000 for the evening. In fact, everything seems to get more expensive around New Year’s — souvenirs, bags of chips, utility bills — yet people still manage to drop $225 to spend New Year’s Eve at a Midtown nightclub, with the promise of an open bar.
Holiday stress makes people bitchy to begin with, but the fact that Times Square becomes a freezing zone of morons between December 24th and January 1st won’t do revelers any favors. New Yorkers take pride in their perceived rudeness, but the eye rolls and brusque attitudes heighten at the mention of these so-called “awesome” New Year’s Eve plans.
There’s nowhere to sit.
More than 1 million people are expected to be sardined between Broadway and 7th Avenue this year. That’s about 1/8 of New York City’s entire population, squished in from 42nd Street north to almost 60th. There are about six places to sit in Times Square on a normal day, which are promptly removed once the police access points are set up.
If you want to be up close and personal with the Times Square Ball, you have to arrive super early. It’s either stand in place for nine hours or more, or risk losing out on the action.
There’s nowhere to pee.
One thing I’ve always respected about Manhattan is that shops and restaurants usually don’t make you pay to use the bathroom. They might make you buy something, but unlike Europe there are no coin-operated toilets or hairy female bathroom attendants sitting with a dish next to the stall.
But this is probably the one instance I’d gladly spend a few dollars in exchange for a quality pee-time experience — because there are absolutely no porta-potties provided for people celebrating the New Year in Times Square.
A few other factors come into play as well — those who move even an inch risk losing their spot, and most of the local businesses close early (on account of the holiday, plus to avoid the chaos that eventually ensues). So you’re looking at one of three options: holding it in until you get a UTI, whipping it out and publicly urinating, or donning adult diapers. I’ve heard terrible anecdotes about all three.
It’s not eco-friendly.
While the ball’s LED lights use enough energy to power two household ovens, the rest of Times Square could provide electricity for 161,000 average US homes, or the entire country of Turks and Caicos.
More than one ton of confetti is released into the area at midnight, made out of low-grade tissue paper. It can only be recycled if it has not been soiled by anything, including water, and only certain kinds of tissue paper are actually biodegradable. Chances of the confetti used during the Times Square Ball Drop being even remotely eco-friendly are very slim.
That’s okay, though, it will just get mixed in with all the trash that accumulates after the revelers have stumbled home. New York City sanitation crews collect approximately 50 tons of it each year.
Alcohol is a no-go.
The NYPD sets up at certain access points within the city, and they’re pretty strict about what people can and cannot bring into Times Square. This includes booze. Public drinking in New York City is illegal anyway, so anyone caught swilling alcohol risks confiscation and arrest. Major NYE buzzkill.
That’s not to say people don’t do it — it’s possible to sneak in alcohol, and more than half the crowd is sure to be super drunk. Which means you will be puked on. I don’t know what’s worse — not being able to drink at all on one of the biggest drunkfests of the year, or dealing with morons who can’t hold their liquor.
It’s just not the same without Dick Clark.
Carson Daly was such a gregarious hottie in the 1990s; his exuberance quickly died out in his late 30s, and now watching him host the Ball Drop is like sitting through a really boring version of Total Request Live. Dick Clark’s enthusiasm for the season resonates even on his deathbed during his final New Year’s salute here (fast forward to 1:39) compared to Daly’s complete lack of emotion in the first 14 seconds of this video clip.