Those of you who enjoy late-night reveling, close proximity to millions of other people, and staying up really, really late in the freezing cold will be in your element tonight–it’s New Year’s Eve, and the biggest party in town is in New York City’s Times Square.
Streets start getting roped off as early as 2:00 pm, and partiers often start gathering in the late afternoon to ensure a prime spot.
Festivities continue throughout the evening, with musical performances, opening ceremonies at 6:00 pm, and handouts of hats and balloons given out to revelers starting a little after 7:00 pm. Performers and celebrity guests this year include Jennifer Lopez, Daughtry, Taddy Porter, and Anderson Cooper. (Now there’s an eclectic mix).
At 11:59 pm Mayor Bloomberg and a special guest will push the button that signifies the dropping of the Waterford crystal ball. This year, the ball has been redesigned to include 300 Waterford crystal triangles woven into a Celtic knot–they are etched with ribbons, angel wings and flames to indicate the theme “Let There Be Courage.” The new lights, for those of you on green-watch, replace halogen bulbs, last three times longer, and use about the same amount of energy as it take to light up two regular ovens.
At midnight, following the dramatic countdown, confetti is released, shouting and kissing of your neighbor ensues, and we welcome 2010. More than 1 ton of confetti will be dropped.
And for those of you who were wondering, the ball-drop tradition goes back to 1907, and the ball tonight will drop 70 feet in 60 seconds. It weighs almost 12,000 pounds.
Happy New Year!
If you’re planning to celebrate Christmas Day by seeing a Broadway or Off-Broadway show, bear in mind that the theater schedules are quite unusual over this holiday. Some shows have altered performance schedules for the holiday, and many shows don’t have a performance at all today, so be aware of this if you’re thinking of last-minute Broadway ticket buying. However, for the adventurous, this could be a good opportunity to snag some great deals at the box office. Broadway shows frequently hold back premium seats and then release them at regular price at the last minute. Good luck, and Merry Christmas!
One of New York’s great musical institutions, the Boy’s Choir of Harlem, is no more. The announcement was made last week by a choir alumnus, after former members of the group performed in Harlem.
Although the Choir gave its last official performance two years ago, in 2007, no official announcement of its demise was made. After its founder, Walter J. Turnball, passed away, attempts were made to revise it, but without success.
The choir’s downfall can be traced to both financial issues as well as an abuse scandal; the group was removed from the Choir Academy of Harlem in 2006 and never really recovered their footing.
In its heyday, however, the choir sang for almost every United States president since Lyndon Johnson. They performed everywhere from Royal Albert Hall in London to their final home at the United Methodist Church in Harlem; appeared on TV Christmas specials; and had a repertoire that included works in German, Latin and English. They sang Mozart and Stevie Wonder; Cole Porter and Bach. The group was awarded the National Medal of Arts by former President Bill Clinton. Its original goal was to help kids–often from underprivileged backgrounds–develop more fully through music.
People still call to try to book the group for events, and a splinter group of musicians does exist. It includes both male and female voices, and has performed at venues as diverse as a Brooks Brothers store and an arts festival in Shanghai.
Some members hope the original group will find its way back to its beginnings. In the meantime, the rest of us will just have to dig out one of their old recordings and remember what made them such a New York legend.
New Yorkers, tourists to this fair city, and hawkers of New York-themed merchandise now have another reason to gloat: New York is not simply the coolest big city in the country, but now it’s also the safest.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced yesterday that New York is the safest large city in the U.S. Their findings are based on the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, released yesterday by the FBI. The report covers the first six months of 2009, and shows that the violent crime in New York fell by eight percent, a larger decline than the national average. In addition, property crime fell by six percent during the first six months of the year.
The news is not only encouraging, but somewhat surprising, considering the state of the economy and the almost-always rise in crime that occurs in a downturn.
Other safe cities out of the 25 largest cities in the country included in the index? Several in California made the list: Los Angeles (really?); San Jose, and San Diego, as well as Los Vegas, Dallas, Houston, and others.
Out of 253 cities in the United States with populations of more than 100,000 people, New York’s crime rate ranks it 241st-but when you consider that the city falls between Amherst, New York and Sunnyvale, California, that doesn’t seem so terrible.
Go forth into the Big Apple and celebrate!
Through rain, sleet or snow may be the credo of the U.S. postal service, but it applies to Broadway as well, where the show must always go on. Despite heavy snowfall and even blizzard-like conditions in New York City overnight on Saturday, Broadway shows are still running as usual. Fortunately the snow didn’t get heavy until after curtain last night, and it had ceased by morning, meaning that Sunday matinee-goers won’t have to brave a flurry of flakes. Of course, the accumulation on the ground is another story, so anybody traveling more than a few blocks to Times Square may want to give themselves plenty of time to get to their theater. For people outside the city who can’t get out of their driveway and want to cancel their tickets, they can try calling Ticketmaster or Telecharge to see if they would be willing to exchange the tickets for another date. However, please be aware that technically both of those services have a ‘no refunds or exchanges’ policy.
File this under the why-didn’t-anyone-think-of-this-before category.
Want to know if your child is eligible to take the school bus? Wondering if you can sneak a peek at your child’s school data online? Tired of making 387 phone calls with no result?
Wonder and dial endlessly no more. A New York City service will have (just about all the) answers: Calling 311–just ONE phone call–will get parents; prospective students and their families; and the just plain curious up-to-date information about New York City public schools.
This round-the-clock service will come as a giant relief to those who had no idea how to access public school information. (Read: Most everybody). Education experts will be on hand to answer questions, without the frustration of being bounced around among endless government agencies and hotlines.
Among the questions most likely to be posed: What time can I expect my child to be dropped off/picked up by the school bus each day? How do I register my child for school? And the ever-popular and always-mind-numbing, “How does the admissions process work for kindergarten/high school/middle school, etc.?
If you have a specific question about your child’s schedule or school, however, parent coordinators are still on hand in each school to answer those questions.
In the meantime, hooray–one less thing to make parents crazy.
Tired of paying $2.25 for bus fare? We certainly are. But if New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg has his way, transit riders on crosstown buses will get a break–the mayor has proposed that all crosstown buses be free.
The plan makes sense: It would both encourage ridership (fewer cars; good for the environment) and ease people’s financial burden (good for people’s wallets and psyches.) Bloomberg explained that by drivers not having to collect fares, they would be able to load and unload passengers much more quickly. Many crosstown bus riders are already using the subway, so not much revenue would be lost. (Crosstown buses are also arguably among the slowest in the city.)
Any lost revenue, Bloomberg argued, would be made up by faster travel times, which would allow fewer buses on those routes.
Bloomberg has proposed a number of transportation-related incentives in recent weeks as part of his re-election campaign, but the MTA, oddly enough, is not subject to much control by the mayor (he controls 4 of the 14 votes on the board.) The proposed incentives have included reopening several Long Island railroad stations in Queens and extending the V line from the lower east side into Brooklyn.
Whether the mayor actually has the power to put any of these initiatives into effect remains to be seen–but using the word “free” to lure voters in an election year is often a good ploy.
Can’t wait for next year’s Alice in Wonderland, Hollywood cult film director Tim Burton’s cinematic take on the novel by Lewis Carroll? The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York City will have a major career retrospective on Burton that should satisfy the appetite, on display from November 22, 2009, to April 26, 2010.
Burton is known as the legendary director and creative mastermind behind such classics as Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The exhibit of all things Burton will consist of a film series, early childhood and recent drawings, and storyboards created during the production of his famous movies. Over 700 of his distinct drawings, paintings, photographs, moving-image works, costumes, props, and other personal items will be on display. Burton is not only a director, but a producer, writer, concept artist for live-action and animated films, fiction writer, photographer and illustrator, with success spanning his 27-year career. Burton’s work often deals with cynicism, sentiment, the intriguingly grotesque, humor, and the themes of adulthood and adolescence.
This exhibition at MoMa coincides with the publishing of The Art of Tim Burton, a limited edition hard cover book featuring over 1,000 illustrations on 430 pages. Entry to the Tim Burton career retrospective is included with admission to MoMa. Museum tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors, $12 for full-time students with I.D., and free for persons under 16.
On the night of Tuesday, August 18, a very brief and violent storm pounded on New York City that left Central Park ravaged with tree limbs scattered and whole trees on their side and uprooted. Officials are saying it’s the worst damage the park has seen in decades. An estimated 500 trees were injured, but thankfully no one was hurt.
Some trees destroyed dated from the 1920s or ‘30s, making the destruction an even bigger shame. The upper half of Central Park was hit hardest. Wood chippers have been hard at work since, eating away at the piles of fallen lumber needing to be discarded. The lumber being mulched into piles are being put to good use to moisten the soil throughout the park. Due to the infestation of the Asian longhorn beetles, the fallen trees unfortunately won’t be used for furniture or firewood. What’s even worse, many trees that lost large limbs are at risk of dying from decay, so those may need to be removed as well.
The storm has also had an unfortunate effect on wildlife, leaving many creatures homeless. Many paths with tree limbs now lying across them have been marked off with yellow tape.
Restoration could cost the Central Park Conservancy nearly $500,000, which will have to be paid by donors. Clean up crews still have a lot of work to do from the widespread damage even a week later.
Six New York City beaches were closed to swimming today, August 21, due to Hurricane Bill looming in the Atlantic Ocean. Rip Currents, heavy surf and tall waves will most likely keep the beaches shut down through the weekend. Manhattan and Brooklyn beaches have been closed, including Coney Island. Also closed is Rockaway Beach in Queens and Midland, and South and Wolfe’s Pond beaches in Staten Island. Rockaway Beach is the city’s only official surfing area, which could disappoint many surfers looking to take advantage of the heavy surf. The hurricane could create seas as high as 10 feet at New York City and Long Island beaches.
Concerned about staying cool? There are 63 pools in New York City. All beaches at Fire Island National Seashore on Long Island will be closed by tomorrow and are expected to be closed over the weekend as well. Robert Moses State Park on Long Island was closed today and Jones Beach State Park may be closed soon. Orchard Beach in the Bronx is still open to swimming for as long as conditions will allow.
Hurricane Bill closed in on Bermuda today on track to move up the east coast of the United States and even to northeastern Canada by this weekend. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory that winds of 110 miles makes Hurricane Bill a Category 2 storm.