The Supreme Court declined to ban Santa Claus and menorah decorations in New York public schools, so the holiday party’s still on (Nativity scenes are still forbidden, however). Governor Spitzer finally drank the Kool-Aid and threw his support behind the Freedom Tower (which in a more sober moment he’d deemed a “white elephant”) and signed off on a $600 million upstate casino (what happens in the Catskills, stays in the Catskills). Sparkling-cider corks popped on overly festive 27th Street when Scores West briefly got its liquor license suspended for being the alleged site of offered all-too-happy endings for undercover cops. Manhattanites rejoiced at the news that they earn more than residents of any other U.S. county, but a hangover hit the next day when they were also crowned America’s most-taxed populace. Downtown went hog wild for Chinese New Year and that other communal ritual, the invite-only opening of a new Keith McNally hot spot (the trattoria Morandi).
Fun-loving student Republicans at NYU celebrated the First Amendment by organizing an “illegal-immigrant hunt” game in Washington Square Park. A distinct lack of ribbon-cutting marked the groundbreaking at Atlantic Yards, but Knicks fans broke out the ticker tape to cheer their team’s not-entirely-preposterous playoff prospects. A-Rod announced that he and Derek Jeter were done painting the town red. And gridiron dad-to-be Tom Brady saluted the birth announcement by ex-squeeze Bridget Moynahan — by spending Mardi Gras week in Paris with supermodel Gisele Bündchen. —Mark Adams