Today’s MOZEN: The Bucket List — NYE in Times Square

Today’s MOZEN: The Bucket List — NYE in Times Square

All words and photos by F LoBuono

During my long career as a photojournalist for CBS News in New York, I had the opportunity to not only experience the events many would include on their so-called Bucket Lists, but to be well-paid for it to boot (an important distinction — more later).

These lists often include events that may present challenges with participating in but appear to be worth the experience — well, at least once anyway.

2 of these are Mardi Gras in New Orleans and New Years Eve in Times Square.

We’ll save Mardi Gras for Lent.

I covered New Years Eve from Times Square about a half dozen times for CBS (about 5X’s too many). And, I have to say that it is everything that a Bucket-List event should be — because it IS an enormous challenge to accomplish for a very rewarding experience, even if the culmination lasts but a few, shinning moments.

As a photographer, my day started early and ended the same way — early the NEXT day. We would take a taxi from the CBS Broadcast Center on W57th St. with our gear as far as we could go and fight the already assembling crowds to get to our position at the main stage in the heart of Times Square. One year, the crowd was thick that a couple of burly NYPD officers literally passed me, my partner — and our gear — over the crowd to get in place!

The Main Stage, Times Square

By the time we finally got in with our stuff it must have been around noon. We would be on the multi-level platform facing the Main Performance Stage just below the legendary Ball Drop.

You certainly couldn’t get a better seat in the house. We were usually situated in the position just below CNN. I remember how they started with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper — before she committed professional suicide and was replaced by Andy Cohen.

Traditionally, next to us was one of the Spanish stations which always managed to rock the platform with too many people having way too good a time!

And, I remember the weather.

Some years we got lucky and the temperatures hovered at freezing or just above. But, I recall that most years we battled the brutal cold for hours at end. At least I could move around the platform a bit, mingle with the crown for interviews, and even use a bathroom in a nearby hotel that was reserved for the press. The civilians waiting in the cattle pens lining Times Square would have no such luxury.

Still, it was enormously challenging. I can still feel the near frostbite in my fingers and toes! I can only imagine how those poor bastards penned up with no chance for leaving until released managed. It must have been very high on their lists for them to go through this.

As the day, evening, and night wore on, the excitement continued to build and it was palpable. The performers were deliberately chosen for their pulsating stage presence — and they never disappointed, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

Despite the cold and what must have been bursting bladders (NO bathroom trips allowed), the crowd was simply euphoric. They were penned in like cattle, shoulder to shoulder, from every corner of the Country and Globe — for hours. Yet, there was NO violence. NO anger. NO Trouble — Only singing, comradery, and LOVE.

Millions of them!

Then, the Countdown beings:

TEN, NINE, EIGHT . . .

The excitement builds to a fever pitch . . .

THREE, TWO, ONE . . .

Then EUPHORIA .

HAPPY YEAR!!

We an explosion of fireworks and the dropping of a magnificent crystal ball, the enormous crowd erupts as one — singing, crying, and hugging.

I’ve never experienced a single, collective moment of good will like. Even if for a brief moment, the WORLD IS AS ONE.

And, that my friends, is why it’s worth it -

. . . and, I got paid a lot.

HAPPY NEW YEAR — EVERYONE!!

Epilogue: The NYPD and the Department of Sanitation are among the best in the world. Millions of people have assembled, virtually without incident — and, the detritus from it is cleaned up with an hour.

The Clean up

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