Ringin' It In
No, my only viable option was to drive. And park. I usually park in a garage in the city and pay the astronomic fees (so I don't do it often). But garages have security gates. Security gates are powered with electricity. How much did I want to rely on Con Edison's Y2K compliance? In truth, I didn't expect anything to happen to the power grid. But I'm not one to tempt fate.
I drove in and, meeting no traffic to speak of, arrived in my friend's neighborhood earlier than expected. There were several open garages, but since I had time I decided to circle the area. After about 10 minutes of cruising the local streets (not that long to search in some neighborhoods) I found it--a parking space too small for most cars, but just right for the Ronin. And only a couple blocks from Katie's place.
While Katie hurried off to help her parents set up the party, Dan and I sought out a Sushi bar for a snack and a saki. Then we walked across town toward the party. It was 8 p.m. At 6th Avenue and 57th Street we met our first police checkpoint. We had a letter from Katie's parents telling the police that we were invited to their party. The officers studied it briefly. We studied the pile of riot gear leaning against the building on the corner. The officers conferred. We noticed the row of bottles of booze next to the riot gear. My first thought was, "bribes to get into the restricted zone!" Dan, doubtlessly correctly, thought, "confiscation!"
At 7th Avenue we were waved on by the police. 7th Avenue had been divided into a firelane on the left and crowd pens on the right. The people that had been flowing into the Times Square area since morning were backed up to 57th street. They were contained, in each block, in these big rectangular pens. If they left a pen, the had to leave the area and could not get back in. We felt terribly priveleged with our letter of transit.
Katie's parents live at that corner on the 8th floor. From their livingroom window we leaned out and saw the crowds continuing to fill the blocks to the north. By 10 p.m. they were filling Central Park. We sipped champagne and dined on gravlox and empanadas, listening to live jazz. Every once in a while someone would lean out the window and peer down at the crowd, then south toward Times Square. The concensus was that none of us would want to be down there, although some of us felt we could at least fit in down there, while others certainly would not.
At 11:30 we went up to the roof to secure our vantage point. We watched the ball descend 14 blocks to the south, then turned and watched fireworks in Central Park. We all agreed that the Paris celebration that we'd seen on TV looked much more exciting.
The next day I was still in a frenzy of preparation when my first New Year's Day Recovery guests arrived, but they pitched in. Soon the ninth annual party kicked off and hummed along.
Amid the old faces there were several new ones--both new friends, and new children. For Dan, who had not been around the New York crowd in a couple years, seeing old friends with new families was particularly strange.