The truth about Times Square on NYE

This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph

As well as the Herald Sun

Whatever you did on NYE, just be glad you weren’t in Times Square, and if it’s on your bucket list, you need a better list.

If you thought those in Times Square looked cold on any coverage you may have seen, that’s because it was -12C which felt like -20C due to the wind chill. If they looked hungry, thirsty and sober, that’s because there’s no food and drink for sale, and no alcohol is allowed.

Be thankful that televisions transmit sound and vision but not smell, as there are no toilets in Times Square, and once you’re in, if you leave you lose your spot and can’t return. People started filing in at dawn on New Year’s Eve and most arrived in the early afternoon. Meaning that at midnight Times Square was packed with over a million people who were holding it, had it stored on their person, or had let it out.

To avoid the lines and for bathroom access, every year people spend hundreds of dollars on VIP tickets to the event, but no VIP tickets are available and it’s a scam.

The entertainment started at 6pm, with the raising of the ball. If I learned anything from puberty, it’s that balls must be up before they can be drop. The line-up of bands and celebrities was then of the caliber their next gig will probably be ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ – Australian version.

The ball itself is in Times Square year round, and is 3.7m in diameter with 32,256 LED lamps, 2.688 crystals but it’s just so far away that everyone who sees it says a phrase usually heard from the bride the night after an arranged marriage, ‘I thought it’d be bigger’.

The ball sits atop One Times Square, a 111m skyscraper completed in 1904. The first ball drop happened a few years afterwards, and was inspired by the ball dropped at different ports around the world for sailors that don’t own reliable watches.

Times Square was named in honor of the first tenants of this building, the New York Times, renowned publishers of the paper of record and boundless fake news, so it makes that Times Square is a fake square, as it’s actually a polygon.

I suppose most endure the hardship and boredom of Times Square on NYE thing for the same reason others run marathons, go on juice diets, or travel through China. To tell as many people as they can, and then bathe in their expressions of admiration.

There are fireworks, the ball of course, two tonnes of confetti is dropped on your head, and over a million people apparently all makes for one of the most euphoric minutes of your life, according to those who’ve done it. Each time someone tells me this though, I think, ‘You’ve clearly never seen the halftime entertainment at a Grand Final.’

Outside of NYE, on average over 300,000 people pass through Times Square every day, and over 50 million a year, making it the most popular tourist destination on the planet. Considering it’s a bunch of electronic adverts on the site of what was a horse stable then a red-light district, that’s depressing.

To rent a spot on one of the billboards costs millions per year, and they’re now so lucrative that One Times Square is vacant apart from a pharmacy on the lower levels. Meaning a building that originally housed top journalists is now an empty shell covered in advertising, a depressingly accurate picture of what’s happened to the entire media industry.

Times Square itself has even been called the number one ‘electronic’ wonder of the world, but I haven’t heard what the other six are. The big screen at the MCG for sure, and those lights on the Bolte Bridge full of birds are pretty sweet. Maybe next year, we should hold a NYE party there.

This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph

As well as the Herald Sun

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.

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