Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Christmas Tree Lighting

Tonight was the 73rd annual Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center - the day that officially kicks off the Christmas season in New York. I left my apartment on 50th at 8:30pm to walk over there, knowing I probably wouldn’t be able to get close to the tree. I was right.

50th Street was closed off all the way to 5th Avenue from Broadway (where I live). I walked as far as 6th Avenue. That’s where the crowd ended! The 70-foot Norway spruce tree on the plaza near 5th Avenue was out of view.

I stopped at a street vendor’s table on my way there and bought a five-dollar Santa hat with blinking red stars lighting up the white furry brim. It even plays a tune. It was perfect for this event, so I put it on and headed down the blocked-off street toward the crowd.

I found a nice family of five from Brooklyn and a man from the Bronx to hang out with. A couple minutes before nine o’clock we heard the countdown to the lighting and looked up at the big screen TV ahead of us in the next block – a good 500 feet away, at least. Just as the tree was being lit, a big city bus drove right in front of the crowd standing this side of 6th Avenue, blocking our view! The whole crowd expressed a big“Awwwwwwwwwwe!” in unison. What are the odds? We were all like, “Get that guy’s license plate!” But most of us laughed about it.

So I was there – just not all the way there. Even though I couldn’t see the tree from where I stood and missed the lighting on the screen, it still gave me a good, warm feeling. There’s something about all the lights and the friendly people and the season that just makes you happy inside. I stopped at another vendor’s table on the way back and got two more hats for Rudy and Ben, the doormen on duty tonight at the Gershwin. They were both tickled to get them.

Rudy saw me coming while I was headed toward the building, waving a blinking hat in each hand. When I passed through the revolving door at my building, he’d taken his doorman hat off and was bowing toward me, waiting for me to put the blinking Santa hat on his head. Ben was at his usual post behind the desk and smiled really big when I tossed his hat to him. On my way back out (to get milk) Rudy gave me a big kiss. (I adore him. And Ben too. Along with Bill, they're my favorite Gerswhin doormen.) And when I came back from Food Emporium they were both wearing their Santa hats! Hee-hee. It's Christmas in New York. Wheeeeeee!

I tried to put the hat on Martin but he wasn’t having ANY of that - see below. Merry Christmas from New York, everyone!

Fountain at Time & Life Building (50th and 6th) Posted by Picasa

Nice Man from Brooklyn Posted by Picasa

Get This Thing Off of Me! Posted by Picasa

Whew! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Black Friday

The cool thing about being done with your Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving is that you can go out shopping the day after Thanksgiving – for yourself! Guilt-free! I had a blast Friday. I had never really been to Harlem before - other than by accident on the subway - so I stepped out into the brisk, sunny, 21-degree day on Friday and headed uptown on the subway.

Harlem has the closest Marshall’s - (which is the only place I can find my gourmet coffees at an affordable price, which is 50-75% less than they charge at the outrageous Food Emporium downstairs) - so I shopped there for a bit. Then I walked up 125th Street and took the 6 train back down to 59th and Lex. That’s where the fun began! Bloomingdale’s was having a great sale. I needed some kind of souvenir for myself as a keepsake of my New York days. I was surprised at how friendly all the store clerks were. I guess I just expected them to be snooty. Not so at Bloomingdales – it’s a great place to shop!

I spent a lot of time in the perfume depart-ment, smelling all the different designer scents while being helped by a beautiful young model-type named Claudia (who was at most a double-zero in size). I definitely didn’t need any more perfume but couldn’t pass up getting myself a bottle of Burberry Brit - a souvenir that will last me a long time. I finally used my 11% off coupon that they mailed me when I moved here a year ago. With my coupon I also got a free gift (a Bloomingdale’s tote bag) for purchasing more than $100. Free is great!

At the crest of each up-elevator there’d be a model standing there in a long fur coat or some other extravagant outfit, holding a sign advertising some new product. I honestly mistook the first such woman as a mannequin – seriously! A second look proved me wrong when I turned around and saw her smiling at some guy.

I got myself some sterling silver Mallorca pearl earrings and pendant at fifty percent off (yes!), then ventured out into the beautiful day with all the other shoppers. I headed to 60th and Madison for the Barney sale. Barney’s New York had a funny window display of Prince Charles in a claw-footed tub inscribed with the following:

"Do you seriously expect me to be the first
Prince of Wales in history not to have a mistress?"

It was cute. Barney’s is just too expensive, even during a sale, so I strolled toward Central Park, fantasizing about being a mult-millionaire and living in one of those high-rise balcony apartments overlooking the Park. As I started down Fifth Avenue I saw a group of break dancers performing across from the Plaza – which is sadly being converted from hotel into multi-million dollar condominiums. If I ever win the mega-millions lottery, you can bet I'll have a penthouse apartment in Manhattan!

A block past the Plaza, I could see ahead that Fifth Avenue was wall-to-wall people – on both sides of the street. So I didn’t stay long – just long enough to observe the extravagant window displays at Bergdorf Goodman before turning right on 57th Street.

I’ve never seen anything like these holiday displays. These were the best, most detailed, most original holiday window displays I’d ever seen. They were truly art. Each was like its own little 3D world with its own theme. My favorite was adorned with flappers in a 1920’s theme. I couldn’t take many pictures because the reflection in the windows was too glaring on the Fifth Avenue side of Bergdorf's.

All I can say is, if you ever make it to New York during the Christmas season, be sure to check out the windows at Bergdorf’s. Walk down Fifth Avenue and see the huge multi-pointed star hanging high above the intersection at 57th Street by Tiffany’s. It’s definitely worth the trip!

I love New York during the holidays.

Love, love, love!

Lovin' New York!! Posted by Picasa

Train Station in Harlem Posted by Picasa

Barney's New York Window Posted by Picasa

Christmas Trees at Plaza Hotel Fountain Posted by Picasa

Tiffany's on Black Friday (5th Ave and 57th) Posted by Picasa

Outside Bergdorf's on 57th Posted by Picasa

Coach Window Display Posted by Picasa

57th Street on Black Friday 2005 Posted by Picasa

Macy's Posted by Picasa

Scooby Doo at Macy's Posted by Picasa

Another Macy's Entrance Posted by Picasa

34th Street Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 24, 2005

79th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

This year I was not going to miss the parade. Last year I was so exhausted from moving across country and working a million hours a day on my new job, I slept through the parade. But this year, since my flight to Virginia was cancelled due to bad weather, I’m here in the Big Apple for this holiday, and I’m going to enjoy it!

Martin woke me at 6:30AM to be fed, as usual. (My alarm clock gave out on me last week, so it's a good thing I have Martin to get me up.) When I looked out my living room window around 7:00, I couldn’t believe that there were people already lining up along Broadway for the parade – which wasn’t due to start for another two hours! I hope they were dressed warmly. (See picture with arrow pointing at the early birds. I shot that from my living room.)

I left my apartment at 8:58AM and was at my viewing spot for the parade at 9:00. How cool is it to live this close to Broadway? I feel very blessed. I foolishly wore a hooded sweatshirt over a t-shirt, with just a thin Mariners jacket, thinking 41 degrees isn’t that cold. Ha! I hadn’t prepared myself for the wind tunnel I was in on 50th Street. Thank goodness for the hood, or I wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes in the freezing wind. It may be 41 degrees out, but the wind is bitterly cold.

A wonderful retired couple from Plymouth, England, joined me in my spot on the marble bench in front of the Paramount building. They told me about their wonderful travels all over the world and their visit to NY this week. It was great to have someone to talk to while waiting for the parade to hit 50th Street. The parade finally showed up at about 9:30, after working its way the nine blocks south from Columbus Circle. By 9:40 we were so cold that we were already talking about hot cocoa.

The nice couple had tried and failed to get into the Empire State Building yesterday afternoon – the two-hour wait was just too much. And their hotel required that they check out at 9:00AM today. Can you believe that? You pay three or four hundred dollars (or more!) a night for a motel, and you have to be out by nine?

I was there to see the first ever balloon fly upside-down on Broadway – the Humpty Dumpty. Scooby Doo was my favorite. I just couldn’t get over the size of that thing!

At 10:00am my hands were frozen solid, so I came home and immediately heated up some milk for hot cocoa. I turned on the TV just in time for the parade to arrive at its destination in Herald Square – at Macy’s - where ABC was filming the event.

I love a parade! Here's the first float coming down Broadway toward 50th Street:

Here Comes Scooby Posted by Picasa

Scooby Doo! Posted by Picasa

That's One big Big Bird Posted by Picasa