This New Year’s, Have a Ball
Ten! Nine! Eight!
You’ve seen it on television a gazillion times. The countdown, the famous Waterford Crystal ball dropping into Times Square, the people kissing and exuberantly shouting “Happy New Year.”
But what’s it like to actually be there?
Although a lot of details for the New Year’s celebration this year weren’t available at press time, here’s our official countdown with tips to help you plan New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
10. It’s free. You just need to show up at 43rd Street and Broadway with what will soon become a million or so new friends.
9. Get there early. Police start shutting down traffic in what they call the Bow Tie of Times Square (42nd to 47th streets between Broadway and Seventh Avenue) around 3 p.m. Nine hours might sound like a long time, but there’s non-stop fun from the lighting and raising of the 11,875-pound ball to its position atop One Times Square to hourly 10-second countdowns complete with colorful pyrotechnics.
8. Be sure to wave at your friends back home. More than a billion people from around the globe watch the Times Square ball drop every year.
7. You’re guaranteed to hear a free concert from someone Top 40-famous. The final slate of entertainers is never announced until the month of the big party, but last year’s artists included DNCE and Gloria Estefan.
6. You’ll score free party favors. Expect giant balloons, funky top hats, horns, streamers, and other freebies. Around 6:30 p.m., a Times Square Alliance crew begins passing out reveler’s goodies.
5. You can wow your friends with these facts. The ball measures 12 feet in diameter and is covered with 2,688 Waterford crystals, including one with Dick Clark’s signature. It’s the seventh ball since New York began dropping balls from the flagpole atop One Times Square in 1907, a tradition started by Adolph Ochs, owner then of the New York Times.
4. Get ready with Good Riddance Day. Scheduled a few days before the big night,you can write down unpleasant and/or embarrassing memories from 2017 and paper shredder company Shred-It will see to their immediate demise.
3. Memorize the official songbook. After the fireworks and the confetti, you’ll be invited to sing along. The four regular tunes, which you and your New Year’s Eve posse can practice beforehand, are: Guy Lombardo’s “Auld Lang Syne”; Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”; “America the Beautiful” performed by Ray Charles; and “What a Wonderful World” sung by Louis Armstrong.
2. Take to heart the lyrics to Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long” that’s guaranteed to play over loudspeakers. In other words, why leave? You’ll pay through the nose if you want a room with a view (Double Tree, for example, has 40 rooms that overlook the festivities, but they require a two-night minimum stay and start at $4,000), but all totaled, there’s 17,000 other hotel rooms in the Times Square area.
1. You might become a celebrity for the night. Yes, you might make it onto one of the seven digital billboards at 1552 Broadway (there are 21 camera feeds set up throughout the area) or use one of these hashtags: #balldrop, #RockinEve, #confettiwish.
Pam Grout is a contributor from Lawrence, Kan.
BEFORE YOU GO
Times Square will not have portable restrooms for this event, and once barricades go up, police generally do not allow people out of the area, so plan accordingly. Dress in warm layers and wear comfortable shoes.
The Times Square Alliance has more answers to frequently asked questions. Visit timessquarenyc.org. New York City visitor information is available at nycgo.com.
Revelers pack Times Square in New York as they await the annual ball drop from the top of One Times Square. ©Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company