I hate Times Square. Hate it.
This is not a unique sentiment among New Yorkers. The majority of us agree that it is black hole for happiness, to be avoided at all costs. Here are some of the reasons why Times Square is terrible.
But the absolute worst part about Times Square is the impression it gives people. Friends from other cities tell me that “New York is fun, but I could never live there” or ask, “how can you stand the crowds in New York?”
These people have ONLY ever been to Times Square. Guess what, I couldn’t live in Times Square either.
But despite all that, I found myself there last week, checking out the Super Bowl festivities. I expected to leave pretty much instantly.
It was crowded. There were a ton of tourists (even more than normal, if that is possible), and Super Bowl apparel was being sold on every corner. But, surprisingly, the whole scene made me happy. I must have been in the right mood, but I saw Times Square differently, just this once.
I saw people, both from New York and from elsewhere, enjoying themselves and playing in my city.
Sure, consumerism ran rampant and there was no way I was going to wait in the RIDICULOUS lines to participate in any of the events, but the playground that the NFL had set up, along with the free pink lemonade that some vendor gave me, had me smiling.
I remembered that Times Square is an attraction for a reason, even without the Super Bowl hoopla going on. The lights, the sights, the sounds, heck, even the mass amounts of people all add up to something worth checking out at least once.
And guess what? That part of Times Square is free. If you can avoid the ads and overpriced food and bars that are being thrust at you, you can experience any neighborhood in NYC for free. You can experience any part of ANY town for free. And I guarantee that you can find cheap activities, places to walk, or inexpensive places to eat as well.
So I still hate Times Square, but it’s good to know that, given the right mood, I can actually enjoy it – and for free.
So maybe this weekend, take a small trip to someplace near you. See if you can enjoy it, while not paying a cent.
Where are you headed?
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