Please Forgive Me

I’m having one of those weeks…will post soon.


SantaCon, Anyone?

Santas galore! Click photo for more information.

Yesterday my sister-in-law and I hopped a train into New York City. Like many suburbanites, we occasionally flock to the city for a mini-escape. We’d anticipated a crowded ride, with the sunny forecast and it being two weeks before Christmas. We didn’t expect so many our fellow passengers to be wearing Santa suits, however. That’s when my SantaCon education began.

SantaCon, for those of you who have been living under a rock like me, is a worldwide pub crawl that originated in San Francisco in 1994. Currently, this celebration takes place in 225 locations in thirty-two countries. This includes Key West, my Conch Republic friends, whose SantaCon is scheduled for December 17th. New York City happens to be home to the largest annual SantaCon gathering. That would explain why Times Square was filled with thousands of smiling red-suited partiers by late last night.

From what I learned through  and interviews with NYC attendees, this December event is non-denominational and focused on dressing up in holiday costumes while parading from one drinking establishment to the next. There’s charitable giving, too. A young woman mentioned having donated non-perishables at one of the bars. Another first-time SantaCon celebrant said the atmosphere was very similar to New York’s St. Patty’s Day parade, and that he’d had such a great time he had already made plans to attend next year with the same group of friends.

Yes, Virginia, there really is a man inside.

Participants generally wear Santa costumes, but we also spied elves and Mrs. Claus costumes. One man I encountered in Penn Station was quite creative, dressed as a present.

Tourists not participating in the event had differing opinions on New York City’s SantaCon. Some felt it didn’t seem to hurt anyone, while business owners and costume retailers stood to make a good profit.

On the other hand, some families with little children witnessed the random drunken Santa or Mrs. Claus whose behavior was naughty rather than nice, and wondered whether it was a wise choice to have these people parading through the streets to Times Square.

I’ll likely never participate in SantaCon, unless I happen to be in Key West during theirs, but my motto has always been: To each, his own. Enjoy the season!

How about you? What’s your opinion of SantaCon?

The Big Apple From A Different View

Times Square, New York City

I live about forty-five minutes outside of New York City. Since suburban life is a completely different experience than urban living, my family enjoys taking a bite out of the Big Apple as much as tourists from anywhere else. We just have the luxury of doing it more often.

Long Islanders travel into the city for a variety of reasons other than work or connecting with relatives. We like to catch shows on Broadway, go out to dinner and shopping, see baseball games, visit museums, attend concerts, and go out to the bars. For holidays, many will hop the LIRR (train) to see a parade, watch fireworks, or count down until the ball drops. The difference with us local visitors is that we generally skip tourist attractions like the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and tours of any kind.

East River View of Manhattan

Two years ago, my son’s fifth grade celebrated their “moving up” to the middle school with a very special event. They scheduled a private day cruise around Manhattan on the Skyline Princess , and we parents were invited along for the ride. This gave us an oppotunity to view the city from a different perspective–away from Times Square crowds and midtown noise.

At first, I was hesitant about whether our son would enjoy the daytrip. His autism and sensory issues can lead to him acting out during new experiences, and we didn’t want him to leave his classmates with that lasting impression before they parted ways for the summer. To get him excited about the outing, his grandmother told him he’d be going on a cruise just like she does with his grandfather. We also showed him online photos of the cruise boat and explained the schedule. That did the trick. He wanted to go. For good measure, I prayed for nice weather.

The Pier, Across from CitiField

Cruise day arrives and it’s sunny! The boat’s pier happens to be across from CitiField–the Mets’ new stadium. We load onto the large, comfortable boat and the party begins. We watch planes take off from LaGuardia as we make our way onto the East River. We gaze in awe at the beauty of the skyscrapers lining the water’s edge, spying landmarks along the way.

Pier 17

The Empire State Building peeks above the other buildings as we travel beneath the 59th Street bridge. If you’re a movie buff, you may recognize Pier 17, featured in the romantic comedy, Fools Rush In, for the helicopter scene where the hero realizes he cannot live without his heroine. Don’t you just love happily-ever-afters?

Empire State Building peeks above other skyscrapers

We take a break from our sightseeing and photography to indulge in a catered lunch. For guests who’ve had their fill of water with a backdrop of tall buildings, the DJ begins the afternoon of dancing and music.

The Skyline Princess honks joyfully to the Staten Island Ferry as we glide into open water. It’s a bittersweet moment as we pass the southern tip of Manhattan. We then turn our thoughts toward the beauty of the monument ahead.

I’ve been to Ellis Island, but this day cruise is a relaxing alternative. We are able to see the Statue of Liberty from all angles, and imagine how the immigrants felt at their first glimpse of her after a difficult journey across the Atlantic.

Statue of Liberty

After a dozen or so photos of this beautiful gift from France, we head back toward Manhattan. The kids are excited to see all sorts of water craft on the return trip. I have to admit, I am, too.

Tugboat and Barge

It’s not often I get to see a tugboat pushing a barge, a fireboat spraying its water in all directions, or a beautiful sailboat with the New York skyline behind it. It’s been a wonderful day–relaxing, comfortable, pretty, and fun. In other words, a perfect escape.

A Fireboat

Have you ever visited New York City? If so, what were your favorite activities or attractions? If not, what would be on your must-see list for the Big Apple?

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