Win Tickets to NEWaukee's New Year's Eve Party!
Dec. 30, 2009: I had been conversing with my best friend on NYE plans. We could not make a decision on what we should do. Plans were made earlier to reserve a hotel suite in Chicago along with VIP at a club. The cost would have been offset by sharing with friends. However, our friends had spent more than they anticipated for Christmas and abandoned NYE plans.
We had talked about going out to NYC, but airfare had quickly doubled in cost. The reality was quickly setting in that I might be sitting at home watching Dick Clark on TV. As traditional is that idea sounded, it seemed to be rather depressing option at the time for being 22 years old.
I told my friend that I would drive us to NYC if he was able to find a place for us to stay along with a place to put parking. He had questioned my sanity at the point and reminded me of the distance and time it would take. I reassured him that I was well aware and committed to doing something epic for NYE. Within a hour he had made arrangements to leave my car at his cousins in New Jersey and we could stay with a old high school friend of ours who had coincidentally landed a one-month internship in Manhattan.
An hour later I found myself driving home and packing. Thirty minutes later I was driving to Chicago to pick up my friend.... and then it happened. The weather changed for the worse and began snowing. Getting through Indiana was fairly easy, but the weather quickly worsened and we found ourselves at 50MPH through Ohio. My friend began to dose off and I continued our journey.
Hours later he awoke and began asking how much progress we had made. According to the GPS we were about a third of the way through Pennsylvania. We were experiencing white out conditions at 2am. He had asked me how I knew where the road was. I pointed up ahead at the reflectors that shined up ahead. "As long as we're in between those we should be fine," I replied. He looked at me with a blank face. "I don't want to hear anymore. I'm going back to sleep before I have a heart attack."
Luckily we made it through the storm and through Pennsylvania. The sun was now rising and we had made our way into New Jersey. I was physically and mentally exhausted. Our trip had taken us a total of 17 hours when we arrived at his cousin’s house; about three hours longer than anticipated.
Since we were behind schedule, we made our visit brief and continued on our way by taking a cab to a train station and then hopping a train to Manhattan. I had never been to NYC before and I was not prepared to see such a busy city. When we got off the train and walked to the street level, I was in complete shock. Seeing NYC in the movies was one thing, but actually being there and experiencing it was another. I had now been awake for 29 hours and I was still going.
Eventually we met up with our friend from high school. It turned out that she was living five blocks from Times Square. It could not have been better. I couldn’t believe how well our luck was in planning this in only an hour’s time.
We relaxed at her apartment and went out for some food. After we had decided to stop over at Times Square and see how many people were there. It was almost six in the afternoon and completely packed. I had never seen so many people or so many police officers in my life. Every block had about 50 police officers. I was only wearing dress shoes, jeans, and a leather coat. We had made the decision that we should remain there as we were several blocks away. Returning later would only push us further back.
If you’ve never seen the NYE ball in person; you’re not missing out on much. It’s much…much smaller in real life. With fatigue setting in, I started to question why we drove 900 miles to watch a ball drop. This didn’t seem like a rationale thing to do. Today day I still question it. I suppose it was a pilgrimage that everyone should experience.
We stood outside for the remaining six hours in 30 degree temperatures with a million other people. It was lightly raining/sleeting the entire time.
I’ll never forget how many people there was, nor the fatigue, or weather for the matter. I felt like we were out there for days and at several points we had debated on skipping out and seeking refuge in a bar. We held fast and though and eventually the ball had dropped. I was past the point of exhaustion now since I had been standing for six hours and awake from 36 hours. All of us were tired. We managed to walked back to our friends apartment and have one drink at a nearby bar.
I remained in Manhattan for two more days after that. January first I found myself sleeping for 12 hours and on the second we began our journey home.
We were determined to do something epic and fun for NYE. We didn’t let anything get in our way. The following summer my friend decided to move to Manhattan. He currently lives there to this day and I’ve been to NYC for every NYE since. While the option to fly out there this time is readily available, I would like to stay in Milwaukee this year and bring in the New Year with friends that are already attending “NYE MKE.” Help me make this possible!