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Go Hard, or Stay Home

Cablessness, tourists, and drunkards conspire against you on New Year’s Eve. To make it work, be decisive: Head for the eye of the storm, or take shelter at home.


Although agoraphobes should clearly stay away, the Times Square ball drop is not the seething chaos one might assume from the TV coverage.

Get Prepared
Some people line up a day ahead, but there’s no reason to show up much before 4:30 p.m.; you’ll still be among the first to fill the “pens”—the metal-enclosed areas on the street. Pens start at 43rd Street (prime viewing real estate) and run north. If you don’t want to stand for seven hours, you can get there by 9 p.m. and aim for one of the pens on Seventh Avenue between 49th and 51st Streets. It’s not the best, but you’ll still be able to see the ball and three of the six enormous flat-screens. Crossing Times Square will be impossible, so pick a side and stick to it. If you’re arriving late, opt for an eastern approach; the views down Seventh Avenue are far better than those on Broadway. Once you’re in a pen, you’re in—police can’t guarantee reentry if you have to leave—and space-holding for friends is not an option. Before 6 p.m., the bathroom options are Charmin’s Times Square outpost and the public restrooms in the Times Square Information Center on Seventh Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets. After 6 p.m., get acquainted with surrounding restaurants and stores.

Chairs, tents, and space heaters are not allowed, so dress warm and wear comfortable shoes (for hand warmers, stop by Modell’s, 234 W. 42nd St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-764-7030).

Food and drinks (nonalcoholic only) are permitted. There will be no food vendors in the pens, but some restaurants will deliver to you on the street, including Ray’s Original Pizza (212-974-9381) and Sbarro (212-768-4194). All bags will be searched for alcohol and weapons, and anything found will be confiscated. Those who manage to sneak contraband in can be arrested on the spot. If you’re lucky, cops will just ask you to pour the booze out and let you go with a warning.

Exit Strategy
The least-crowded subways post-event will be the B, D, F, and V at Rockefeller Center or the C and E at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue.

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