Last-minute tips before heading to New York for New Year’s Eve

The ball hasn’t dropped yet – it doesn’t drop until 8:30 p.m. – but New York’s Times Square saw celebrants arrive early Monday morning, dressed in suits and dresses for Times Square’s popular “ball drop contest.”

But come 8:45 p.m., the ball was back up and the square — probably the biggest party in the city for the holiday season — was expected to host its high-priced shoppers, who have filled Times Square since the New Year’s Eve parade began there on 42nd Street in the 1920s.

Tuesday night, a million people are expected to attend a city-sanctioned party at midnight, a New York Times article from 2012 said. (By last count, Forbes estimated 8,400 people were in the crowd, from the close of dancing, lighting-up and maybe dropping the ball earlier Monday evening.)

Times Square’s no-less-drab surroundings may dampen the holiday spirit of their countrymen who want to visit the iconic site, but New York City pols are not letting that discourage them.

Mayor Bill de Blasio “is in full swing,” the Daily News reported, “unveiling flags and hoopla Sunday in the hope of improving what he sees as what some say is a weary, tacky Times Square.” De Blasio is expected to join Hillary Clinton in singing “New York New York,” which has been accompanied by “The Times Square Countdown,” a new soundtrack for the annual countdown to midnight on the New Year’s Eve ball drop at 8:45 p.m.

The Washington Post’s transportation reporter, Paul Wiseman, attended one such halftime event for the ball drop when he was just 12 years old.

Since Wiseman couldn’t help but ask around, media folks from Seattle, Atlanta, and San Francisco asked him if Times Square has seen New Year’s Eve crowds as large as those expected this year.

In New York, Wiseman’s findings: “[S]omehow outnumbering the crowds are many tourists, and tourists tend to keep it much slower. And then there are the procrastinators, which was kind of fun: I see they are spreading out, arriving an hour earlier than last year.”

Asked if that meant New York was outdoing its usual New Year’s Eve party, Wiseman said, “You have to go back to the pop culture narrative in terms of the urban New York landscape. People seem to like that mix of downtown neighborhoods and tourist spots. Times Square has many great attributes but it also attracts more than 100,000 backpackers (or tourists) to the area annually.”

But if you’re visiting Times Square, beware of immunizations.

A local newspaper reported that New Yorkers appeared to be more reluctant to bring their children for vaccinations as a result of the 2020 measles outbreak in some parts of the U.S. California has seen the most cases of the disease in the country.

In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, one doctor said of New York, “The food, the retail shopping, the hotels, the bars and all those things are New York City. If you have to let the kids get inoculated, then go ahead,” she said. “But don’t touch anything with an egg in it, especially in New York City, unless it’s another person’s kid.”

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