2011 New Year's Eve -
Times Square

For a number of years, Mike has had this "bucket list" idea to go to New York City, and be in the crowd at Times Square for New Year's Eve. This year he and Sandy did it, taking along friends Buzz and Doreen. The weather cooperated, the hotel and parade arrangements went smoothly, and it was a great time!

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The group actually got to New York a couple of days early. We got to see all of the organizing and preparations for the big night, and also to see some of the sights. One very moving time was our visit to the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. The Museum (the history part of the site) isn't finished yet, but the two reflecting pools, with the names of all those killed that day, are done, and have attracted over a million visitors since the Memorial opened September 11, 2011. There are hundreds of trees in a garden around the pools, most newly planted, but one is rather special - it's an old tree that was on the plaza in front of the towers 11 years ago, was badly burned but survived, was taken to a nursery to see if it could be rejuvenated, but while there it was struck by lightning - now it is at the site and replanted. Some of the guides refer to it as the "cat tree" -- the tree with 9 lives.

A famous eatery in Manhattan is Carnegie Deli, just around the corner from Carnegie Hall. Doreen had heard a lot about it, so it was the spot for breakfast one morning - here's Doreen and Buzz in front of some of the celbrity customer pictures. Back out on the street, we saw VIP bleachers being set up by the stage, and some of the thousands of police officers getting a briefing on the crowd control plans (which were really well thought-out; obviously they have had a lot of practice at this).

In the afternoon before the big event, the travelers went to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular -- was was it ever! They went to Rockefeller Center, to the big Macy's store (window decorations), by the Empire State building, along Fifth Avenue, and of course had a delicious dinner in a intimate Italian restaurant before resting up for the big night.

Finally it was 11pm, and time to head out to our reserved viewing area on the street. The entertainment and music continued right up until 11:55, when Lady Gaga appeared on stage to sing a song, and then start the countdown. It was on big video screens, and the crystal ball slid down a pole the last 10 seconds, and then the "2012" sign lit up, and the fireworks started.