Headed to Times Square New Year's Eve? Event Day Updates
Dubbed the crossroads of the world, on December 31 2011 approximately one million people will crowd into a few narrow blocks in Times Square to revel in 2012 at America's biggest New Year's party. Are you hearty enough to party in the crowds this year? Here are some tips for those intrepid few looking for that once in a lifetime experience of a Big Apple New Year’s Eve.
Arrive BEFORE 3:00 pm to get the goodies-Updated 12/31 at 5:00 EST
The hats and goodie bags are handed out early, just after visitors are allowed into the holding area and before the party begins and the cameras go live. The Times Square Alliance will open pens at 3:00 pm this year. Enter the holding area at 47th street. As of 4 pm, you will not be allowed to enter at 43rd-46th streets, and must enter north at 47th. Listen to police instructions for latest information.
Take public transportation
Nearly every subway line connects easily to Times Square but expect huge crowds on the trains and platforms. Bryant Park, Grand Central, 34th street and 50th street stops are an easy walk from Times Square and you will avoid much of the underground annoyance. For detailed subway information check out the MTA web site. If you must drive, leave your car someplace away from Times Square such as a Park and Ride or more distant garage and then take the subway to reach the festivities. Update: Many subway exits are closed in and around Times Square. Best best is to take A,C, E to Port Authority or Yellow lines to 49th street.
Don’t bring too much stuff, especially not alcohol
Security is very high in and around Times Square and beginning early in the day police will start to restrict traffic flow in and out of the area. Expect bag searches and multiple police check points. While it is ok to bring a snack and a camera, do not plan on bringing big bags or anything that police may confiscate or not let you bring in. For a full and most up-to-date list of what you can have, check out the Times Square Alliance web page. Update: Bag searches and security wands are being used at checkpoints as of 3 pm.
You will not have access to a bathroom
Really, you won’t. When you enter into Times Square you will be placed into a pen or holding area. If you leave the pen to find a bathroom, you will lose your spot and you will not be allowed back in. Further, even if you could hold your place, there are not many places to pee in and around Times Square. If you do decide you really must go, the only options are Port Authority Bus Terminal, Toys R Us if it is open, and any restaurant you can talk into giving you a break (but don’t count on it). The best bet is to follow your mother’s advice, make sure you go before you get there and don’t drink too much once you are standing around in the cold.
It is not the same as on television
Television cameras have an eagle eye view of the crowd and all activities. You are essentially an extra in a huge New Year’s Eve production and will be stuck in your spot among the masses. Don’t expect to have a great view of the acts on the stage and, if you arrive late and wind up in the back, not even a good glimpse of the ball itself. If you decide to go, watch the broadcast later for what you missed and head to Times Square for the merriment, the memories, and the bragging rights of being in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, not the view.
Be safe, but don’t worry too much
Use common sense. Don’t bring high end items that could easily be destroyed if it rains or fail to safeguard your possessions against the few pickpockets who likely be shaking down the crowd. Pack your camera and phone in a plastic bag if snow or rain is predicted. Bring one more layer than you think you will need and a disposable rain poncho, just in case. Use inside coat pockets to store your stuff and don’t carry around a big purse or bag. Instead, take only what you need to get into Times Square and back home safely.
Most of all, though, don’t let safety worries or lack of bathrooms ruin your Times Square experience. For years, the Times Square Alliance and the New York City have put on a safe show for a million or so revelers with plenty of police security. The key to having a good time is to bring a ton of patience, a willingness to cooperate with police, an empty bladder, and a good spirit to the once in a lifetime experience.
Weather Forecast-Updated 12/31 at 10:30 am EST
According to weather.com, temperatures at 4 pm, when the holding area opens is expected to be approximately 50 degrees and cloudy, changing to 42 degrees and clear in time for the midnight ball drop. While no rain is predicted after 1 pm, there is a 40% chance of wet weather earlier in the day. Be sure, though, to check an updated forecast before you leave for the festivities, since weather patterns change quickly in the Big Apple. If the the weather remains warm and dry, you can expect larger crowds, so plan accordingly.