Now, I can't lie -- judging by what we've seen on teevee, I wasn't terribly enthusiastic about being downtown for our Ball Drop. For one thing, it involves being pack in with lots of people. For another, we'd been out very late the night before (for our TSO concert) and I'd then had to get up very early the next morning for a project at The Store, with the Ball Drop obviously keeping us up past midnight. But the biggest factor in my ambivalence was the fact that the teevee coverage always makes the Ball Drop look, well, lame. As in, "serving platter covered with Christmas lights being lowered out an office building window on a string and an extension cord" lame. So I figured I'd be freakishly tired while I froze my arse off standing around a huge crush of people waiting to watch a chintzy ball of lights come down a building before shoving my way through the crowds to get home. Luckily I was off the next day, but still.
Well, wouldn't you know it -- the Ball Drop was a terrific time.
Our parking strategy was a good starting point. Instead of trying to park close to the event, we decided to park in a lot down at the foot of Main Street, right outside the vacant-for-the-night HSBC Arena, and then ride the Metro Rail to the Ball Drop location. The Ball drops down the front face of the Electric Tower, a beautiful old building in downtown whose top tiers are always illuminated white except for the holiday season when they're lit green, red, gold. This is what we saw as soon as we got off the Metro Rail train:
Swirling spotlights kept arcing over the building and into the air, sending those wonderful blue shafts of light into the winter sky. The snow was falling, but the flakes were big and fluffy, there was no breeze to speak of, and the temperature was just cold enough that we could stand there for a little over an hour without wanting to kill ourselves. (Still, a roving hot chocolate vendor or two wouldn't have been a bad idea.)
Here's the view from the vantage point we set up for ourselves:
The Ball itself was a lot nicer looking than what we see on teevee: a glittering globe, completely covered with lights that were swirling and spiraling and generally looking all, well, glittery. We got there at about 11:00, so we had to stand in one place for the remaining hour. But that hour went pretty quickly, because there was a lot of entertainment on the stage there, at the foot of the building: trivia contests, appearances by Buffalo Sabres, the Mayor receiving what I couldn't discern to be either a cheer or a lusty boo, more trivia, lots of fun music, and then the final song of 2009. It was "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, which is, frankly, a song I could live without hearing again for a good long time.
But anyway, the final minute of 2009 came at last, and during the last fifteen seconds of the year, the Ball began to descend:
And at last, we were into 2010!
More music, lots of cheering and kissing. The third song of 2010 the deejays of the night chose was "ABC" by the Jackson Five (at which every single black person around us started dancing). Then we followed some of the dispersing crowd out of the area, walking down Main Street until we got to the next Metro Rail station, where we caught the next train and rode it back down to our parking spot. It took us half as much time to get home from the Ball Drop as it had the night before from the TSO concert.
One final postscript. The Daughter loves stuff that either glows or lights up, so whenever we're at a function that takes place at night, we'll almost always have to go to one of the inevitable street vendors who are selling such wares -- glow necklaces, glow sticks, light-up hats, et cetera -- and get something. She chose this thing that was clearly a knock-off of a lightsaber, even though it's incredibly chintzy and cheaply made, so much so that the guy could have hawked them for two bucks and made a profit. (Which is no doubt why he was hawking them for eight bucks each. I'm so easy.)
So The Kid came from from New Year's with a toy lightsaber, whose siren call I managed to disregard for over a week. Yup, I made it a week.
Until last night, when I finally gave into the temptation.
Wow, the Dark Side is more seductive!