New York’s one of the most popular tourist destinations to ring in the New Year. People flood into the city, gathering together in celebration of the fresh beginning the New Year brings us. I wanted the New York experience, but I wanted to avoid the overcrowded madness of Times Square.
What? Why would I avoid Times Square at News Years?
Well, for a few reasons.
• I couldn’t in good conscience waste my precious time in the city standing around all day to pack myself like a sardine with a ton of stranger’s, for a ten second countdown to watch a shiny ball (that I wouldn’t have a view of anyway)
• It’s expensive, New York isn’t the cheapest of cities, and while Times Square is free, the area around it isn’t. Especially during New Year’s Eve, and I didn’t feel like blowing my hard earned savings.
• No bathrooms or seating allowed. I don’t know how people stand there all day without using the restroom, but if you did I tip my hat to you. (and your bladder of steel)
• No booze allowed, where in lesser known New Year’s venues they are a little more lenient. Now that might sound like I have a problem, I don’t, but damn it everyone should be able to drink champagne if they want when the clock strikes twelve.
Instead I went to Prospect Park, and had one of the best New Year’s I’ve ever had. Prospect Park gives you the feeling of ringing in the new year surrounded by people, but in a relaxed setting. And un-crowded enough that you can actually spend time with the people you care about. The first thing our group did was have a few drinks while we caught up with some old friends from Australia. Before we headed to downtown Manhattan and had the cheapest dinner I had in New York. After dinner, we checked out a few bars before we headed to Prospect Park in Brooklyn’s to watch the fireworks. After a fairly entertaining metro ride, we might have had more than a few drinks, (I blame the wonderful Continental bar that had five shots, and a coke for twelve dollars) we arrived at the park around 11:00 to find the festivities in full swing.
Prospect Park was alive with the sounds of a band energizing the crowd. Everywhere you heard laughter, and felt the electricity in the air. The couple thousand people were spread throughout the park enough that you had room. Room enough to move and relax without losing your friends in the crowd, being pushed, or suffocated, which is what Times Square is like.
The atmosphere grew as the hour passed; everyone made friends, talked, and snuck a few drinks. Everyone was having so much fun no one realized it was almost the New Year until the countdown began. In one voice the crowd started counting down the last few seconds of 2012. Then simultaneously my friend Luke, who almost got me eaten by a bear in Alaska, sprayed champagne over all of us, everyone kissed the person beside them, (maybe even me, but a travel blogger doesn’t kiss and tell!) and the fireworks bang signaled the New Year. They illuminated the night sky with brilliant shades red, yellow, that lit up the sea of people sipping champagne, kissing, and celebrating the birth of a new year.
Cops where everywhere but they didn’t seem to mind the champagne, so neither did we. As the fireworks died down everyone held someone close, as a silence drifted through the crowd you got the sense that everyone was wondering what new things 2013 would have in store for us. I not only began to reflect on the path that lead me to this moment, but where the path will lead me in my upcoming travels, and this website, total contentment settled over me I couldn’t help but smile.