Where It’s Always New Year’s Eve: New Orleans

December 31, 2011 by staff 

Where It's Always New Year's Eve: New OrleansWhere It’s Always New Year’s Eve: New Orleans, Times Square was awash in hopeful sentiments as it prepared to welcome hordes of New Year’s Eve revelers looking to cast off a rough year and cheer their way to something better in 2012.

For all of the holiday’s bittersweet potential, New York City always treats it like a big party — albeit one that, for a decade now, has taken place under the watchful eye of a massive security force.

Pessimism has no place on Broadway. Not this week, anyway. The masses of tourists who began streaming through the square Friday for a glimpse of the crystal-paneled ball that drops at midnight Saturday were there to kiss, pose for silly snapshots and gawk at the stages being prepared for performers like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. Glum wasn’t on the agenda, even for those whose 2011 ended on a sour note.

“2012 is going to be a better year. It has to be,” said Fred Franke, 53, who was visiting the city with his family even after losing his job in military logistics this month at a Honeywell International division in Jacksonville, Fla.

And here at the “Crossroads of the World,” reminders of a trying 2011 around the globe could be seen in the multi-national faces of awe-struck visitors.

Asked how his 2011 went, a Japanese tourist who gave his name as Nari didn’t know enough English to put it into words, so he whipped open his phone and displayed pictures he had taken of damage wrought by the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the island nation and his home city of Sendai.

“Not a good year,” he said. Then he smiled and added that things are now much better.

Moments after he spoke, the crowd oohed and cheered as workers lit the ball and put it through a test run, 400 feet above the street. The sphere, now decorated with 3,000 Waterford crystal triangles, has been dropping to mark the new year since 1907, long before television made it a national tradition.

“Not to be corny, but I think the American ideal is to be optimistic. It’s in our character,” said Sajari Hume, 22, of New York, whose own 2011 wasn’t all that bad. He joined the Army National Guard, found a sense of purpose he hadn’t had before, and is now planning on going to school and feeling pretty good about the future.

“I think we’re at a turning point. People want something to look forward to. And what better place to celebrate that possibility than right here,” he said, pausing to accept the well wishes of a group of visiting tourists from London, who stopped to shake his hand after seeing his fatigues.

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