Friday, January 02, 2009

NEW YEAR'S EVE ON THE GRAND


I'm a little slow posting on my New Year's Eve frivolities, due to computer issues at home. Here is a picture of our very own version of the ball dropping on New Year's Eve.
After spending 2 days at home confined to bed because of a flu bug that was going through the entire family, I started feeling restless and better late afternoon on December 31. Don and I had talked about going downtown to watch the ball drop, which was a very clever marketing scheme put on by the local radio stations to get people out and downtown for New Year's Eve. I wasn't sure I would dare venture too far from the bathroom until later that afternoon, so about 8:30 that evening we headed downtown. We had missed the first 2 bands that played so now realized we were going to be standing out in the cold (about 17 degrees, no wind) for the next 3.5 hours. Could we do it??
By all accounts, there were probably 20,000+ people partying on our version of Times Square, the Monroe Mall as its called. They had tents up and down the block where they were selling hot chocolate and coffee, but the bars in the area had lines up and down the block with people waiting to get in, either to get warm or as I would guess more likely to get in for beer and other drinks. No alcohol was allowed outside the bars, not that that didn't mean there weren't plenty of drunks roaming around. Don brought his "flask"--to keep warm as he put it, and me just getting over the stomach thingy wasn't in the mood for any drinking so took a water bottle filled with Sprite and one tablespoon of peach schnapps (which btw is the way to go to keep your water bottles from freezing in the winter).
For the most part, we were able to keep fairly warm, wearing layers, heavy boots, hats, me two pair of mittens, and going into the hot chocolate tents now and then, and walking down to my work building to use the bathroom. The crowd was pretty lively, and the radio DJs were doing a great job keeping people pumped up. The crowd outside was mainly families and middle school and high school kids, all with no other place to go, but it was a great time for everyone. There was a lot of dancing going on and even a woman walking around in a band uniform with a tuba probably 30 years old (the tuba), decorated with Christmas lights.
Around 11 though, things started really getting crowded, and even standing outside didn't cut the heavy cloud of cigarette smoke hanging in the air. It was also very irritating when someone up against your back would light up and then blow smoke at you. I got pretty tired of this after a while, since it got to be more and more frequent as people started coming out of the bars and crowding the mall to see the first ever New Years ball drop in Grand Rapids. I finally told Don that at 11:40, I was going to get out of the crowd and make my way to the fringes where we could still see the ball but not get caught up in the stampede when it was over. But getting out of the crowd was harder than it seemed, and by the time we broke free and got a clear space, I was exhausted, as much from the exertion as from the weakness of not eating much for a couple of days. After a while, I just cannot take crowds, and with the smoking all around us, I was starting to get a major headache. At this point too, my toes were so frozen I was afraid if someone stepped on my feet, my toes would break completely off.
At 11:59, the ball began its descent:

video

It was great to be at an innaugural event in our city, although I can now say "been there, done that." And after spending over 4 hours out in the cold night, I no longer have any excuses for not running outside this winter.

9 comments:

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

I can't imagine being outside in the cold for that long on New Years eve. I enjoyed the vidoe of the ball dropping though.

Happy New Year!

And as you said, you now have no excuse to NOT run just because it's cold out. It will be more comffy runnign than it was just standing there!!

Just_because_today said...

I have never made it to Times Square for the ball drop, but one day I'd like to do the midnight run, it's gotta be warmer than just standing in the crowd.
So Peach snapps keeps the water from freezing....gotta remember that for my winter runs.
Happy New Year

Anne said...

It's so weird to read about people smoking in public. It's pretty much illegal to do so in any public space in California and especially in San Diego. Heck, you cannot even smoke in a car if it's carrying anyone under 18 (that's a state law)! Glad to lasted till the year turned over.

WADDLER26.2 said...

I am such a wimp that I would have never have made it. Cool video.

Kona Shelley said...

Well at least you didn't fall asleep like me..:-))
Happy new years to you Vickie.

mindy said...

Thanks for your encouragement on my blog the other day. I'm glad you're feeling better and hope you're having a happy new year so far!!

Fe-lady said...

I was in bed and asleep by 9! So you have my utmost respect for braving the cold and seeing the new year in! Happy 2009!

chia said...

I was down the street in the warmth and comfort of Cambridge ;-). You're crazy for chillin down there (literally)! Glad you're feeling better! I'm running tomorrow around 10ish. Would like to get at least 7 miles in.

Sunshine said...

How fun to have your own "ball" .. and now you have been there, done that.... In the cold!
Sweet Pea enjoys your pictures regularly.