STJ’s Tracie Troha takes a bite out of the ‘Big Apple’

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2004

Watching the crystal ball drop in Times Square was a surreal moment for me Wednesday night. Though I witnessed the famous event from the comfort of my own couch, just 24 hours before I had actually been standing in midtown Manhattan snapping pictures and staring up at the sparkling ball that would later be seen across the world.

I was in the Big Apple as part of an extended Christmas vacation with my family. Instead of giving each other gifts that we didn’t really need and would just end up taking back later, my family chose to spend the holidays together doing something we could all equally enjoy.

So, we flew to New York the day after Christmas and made it back home several hours before the Times Square countdown began.

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I had never been to New York City before and had no idea what to expect.

As it turned out, the place looks exactly like it does in the movies.

Everything had this oddly familiar look to it because I had seen them so many times before on television and in theaters.

Times Square was a sight onto itself. As the days drew closer to New Year’s Eve, the more crowded the area became.

At night, the place was so lit up and full of people that it was hard to notice the sky was actually dark.

Tourists from all parts of the world were there to experience the famous New Year’s event.

Standing on one particular street corner in Times Square, I heard so many different accents and languages that it seemed like I was the only American on the block.

Friends thought we were crazy for visiting the city during a time when the country was on high terrorist alert, but great strides were being taken to ensure everyone was safe.

The night before New Year’s Eve, police were setting up barricades and doing heavy patrol along the side streets. Several officers wore full metal body armor, complete with helmets, and had long rifles strung across their backs.

There were no celebrities in sight, but we saw workers installing tall stages in the middle of the street where singers would perform and which would allow broadcasters to cover all the action.

Despite all the excitement in the chilly New York air, I had no regrets about not being there when the 2004 sign lit up. After all, the best view and most comfortable spot in all of New York City was right there on my couch.